The "ánimas" or spirits of the deceased have permission from the dead world to come visit us. The dead comeback attracted by their previous homes, belongings and the love they feel from their families.
October 31st marks the ending of the preparations for the 2 first days of November when we celebrate El Día de los Muertos.
November 1st is the day to give family and friends a sample of the food offerings that make the "ofrenda de muertos" or the deceased offerings. "Day of the Dead bread" is an item that is always present in this offering. Also in this day we honor "los angelitos" or the deceased children. On November 2nd we honor the deceased adults.
We also celebrate "El Día de los Muertos" in the U.S. with parades and special events in galleries throughout Chicago, California, Texas, New York and New Mexico.
Day of the Dead Mexico: A Piece of History
Convergence of Cultures
History comes alive when enjoying Day of the Dead in Mexico and in some parts of the U.S. This Aztec celebration was presided over by the Lady of the Dead named Mictecacihuatl and included many rituals dedicated to her and to the god of war Huitzilopochtli.
During Day of the Dead Mexico dresses itself with skulls and altars, where families place all the offerings for the deceased.
The altars of "El Día de los Muertos" can be at home or on top of the grave and the decorations of the Altars vary in accordance to each region of Mexico where this holiday is celebrated.
The Day of the Dead altars are generally on a table that we cover with a table cloth, a white sheet, or simple cut paper. We tie pieces of sugar cane or "carrizos" in the shape of an arch to the legs of the table to welcome the deceased.
We place offerings at the altar on the morning of October 31st, and while we prepare the Day of the Dead altars we remember all our deceased family members.
Decorations for "El Día de los Muertos"
During Day of the Dead Mexico becomes a fragrant place invaded with the traditional scent of "cempasúchil" - yellow-orange marigolds, - along animated figures of "calacas" or skeletons, and sugar skulls.
Other important objects are Day of the Dead bread or "pan de muerto," a lamp that contains "higuerilla" oil, white and yellow candles and "velones," a special kind of candle commonly used to pray. Religious images and pictures of the deceased are also customary.
Valerie Menard wrote in The Latino Holiday Book "The most important character on Día de los Muertos is the key symbol of death, the calavera." Don't be surprised to see skulls everywhere! Embrace them as they are symbolic of life.
During Day of the Dead Mexico initiates the celebration in the middle of October when all participants purchase the elements for the offerings they want to place at the altar.
Several days before Day of the Dead Mexico becomes particularly colorful as markets and homes use decorations with characteristic objects and scents that make this holiday one of the most picturesque in the country.
Day of the Dead Bread and Other Foods
Pan de muerto is essential when celebrating "El Dia de los muertos" simply because it carries tradition and it is the bread Mexicans share with families at the table. Other foods we use "El Día de los Muertos" are "el mole negro," los dulces Oaxaqueños like pumpkin preserve, "las manzanitas de tejocote," along with chocolate.
Day of the Dead is not only about foods. This is one of the best holidays to have fun Hispanic style. Crafts, decorations and traditions all come alive during El Dia de los Muertos!
I started celebrating this holiday after my son was born. Honeslty, I want to keep him close to his Latino roots.
Then, many people started asking me about this holiday, so I created this 65-page Dia de los Muertos skull coloring and sugar skull making guide.
During Day of the Dead Mexico transforms itself into a wonderful town that mixes fun, reverence, remembrance and respect.
This is one of best holidays celebrated in South America that gives us an opportunity to reunite with those who have passed away and are still in our hearts. It is like connecting two worlds without any trace of fear!
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