Día de los Muertos: 5 Things To Know
It wasn’t until I went to Mexico for the first time and bought a beautifully hand painted Calavera (skull) that I decided to actually look into the meaning behind them. Here are 5 things that I learned about Día de los Muertos.
NOT LIKE HALLOWEEN
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Although they seem related at first glance, the two differ greatly in traditions and mood. Yes, the theme is death, but Día de los Muertos is a celebration to honor deceased loved ones. All throughout Mexico, people dress up in elaborate colorful outfits and makeup, hold parties and parades, sing and dance, and make offerings to their deceased loved ones.
The centerpiece of the celebration is an altar which typically consist of three tiers. These are usually place at home with the top tier being adorned in pictures of all loved ones who have passed away, along with saint statues and images. Second tier is covered with ofrendas (offerings) to encourage the dead to feel welcomed with their favorite foods, pan de muerto (bread of the dead) which is specifically made for this time, and even a shot or whole bottle of liquor can be found. The bottom level is covered with candles, a mirror, soap and water so that the spirits can freshen up upon arriving at the altar.
Calaveras play a huge role in Día de los Muertos. Calaveras made of sugar are made during this time and also placed on the altars as a gift. They are made colorful and playful and are meant to remind people of the nature of life; that our time on earth is limited and that it’s ok to play with the idea of death.
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA
Although the holiday originated in Mexico, other countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Brazil also celebrate Día de los Muertos. Despite no other country celebrating it like Mexico does, they do all mainly focus on honoring their loved ones with joy and in a celebratory manner with food, music and flowers.
DAY OF LITTLE ANGELS
The celebrations revolving around Día de los Muertos is actually a two day long festivity. Día de los Angelitos (Day of Little Angels) celebrated on November 1st is to remember all children who have passed away. Día de los Muertos, which is celebrated on November 2nd, is the more known of the two and is to honor all deceased loved ones.