As far as worldwide festivals go, there are none that are more haunting, more colorful, more spiritual and more all encompassing than Day of the Dead is to the Mexican people. Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is a celebration and remembrance by the Mexicans of those who have passed on and across three days, they will use rituals and traditions in order to give thanks to the lives of their loved ones and remember with fondness the lives which they lived.
Let’s take a look at exactly what this festival consists of and how it is celebrated.
When and Where?
Celebrations take place throughout Mexico, some towns take it much more seriously and have far greater celebrations than others but all Mexicans celebrate this festival. Day of the Dead takes place between October 31st and November 2nd with each day relevant for the different souls who have died.
On the 31st of October, Halloween is widely celebrated throughout Mexico, as it is in many other parts of the World. Traditionally this would have been part of the day of the dead celebrations but modern influences have altered this day slightly.
The 1st of November is dia de los inocentes and dia de los angelitos, this is the day that is dedicated to those who were killed by accidents or children who have died. The 2nd of November is dia de los muertos o dia de los difuntos which means day of the dead and this is the day where all of those who have died are celebrated.
What Are The Rituals and Traditions
The majority of day of the dead traditions are centered around the ofrendas that are given towards the dead. These ofrendas are displays which often consist of similar objects that are placed in the home, on the streets, in churches or even at gravesides to remember the dead.
The offenders usually consist of the highly scented Cempasuchil flower, orange in color, these flowers are to attract the should of the dead. The altar or ofrenda will also be set on three tiers to represent the three stages of life, below Earth, Earth and the Heavens. Around the altar you will find water to quench thirst on the journey to the afterlife, salt, to heal wounds and candles to signify life. You will also find skulls and foods and drinks that the dead person enjoyed placed on their altar as well as a photo of the dead. These altars will remain in place for around a week.
Pan de Muerto
A sweet bread is often consumed around the day of the dead festival and is a loaf-style bread, heavily sugared with bone-shaped portions.
The clavier style has become heavily associated with day of the dead and Halloween costumes, these are living dead style outfits that are incredibly intricate and impressive to see. The female version of the costume is the Catarina, a beautiful women’s outfit with skulls for faces.
Wherever you go throughout Mexico during this time of year you will see altars and processions for day of the dead and it is a great festival to be involved with.