The Day of the Dead, also known as Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is a day celebrated in and out of Mexico by people of Mexican origin. Its history and traditions can be traced back to the Aztec culture, which flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries, according to National Geographic. It is celebrated from October 31 to November 2 by friends and relatives of the dead.
Before the Spanish colonization, the celebrations used to take place at the beginning of summer, but due to assimilation, a few Christian elements were incorporated, consequently pushing the dates to the last day of October and the first two days of November. This was to coincide with the All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day. On why the celebrations begin at midnight October 31, it is alleged that the gates of heaven open up at that time to allow the spirits of the dead to reunite with their families.
To celebrate the Day of the Dead, family and friends gather together to honor their loved ones. Traditionally, it is believed that the spirits of the dead will bestow blessings and good luck to those who celebrate them. The nature of the celebrations varies from place to place. In many regions, families create altars in their homes that feature the dead member’s favorite items and food.
For dead children, toys and candy are usually left on their graves, and for adults, beer and tequila are usually included. Altars also feature photos and memorabilia of the deceased. Those who observe the holiday believe that the dead relish the essence of the food offered. And after the celebrations are over, the next of kin may enjoy the dedicated dishes. They believe the food is at this time devoid of nutrients. In some cultures, the festivities may be held in the graveyards and usually go on overnight. This according to a report by UNM.
The main intention is to have the spirits of the dead hear what’s being said about them by friends and family. Aspects of the celebrations may include memorable moment recollections, including funny moments. In some areas, shells are worn so that the noise they make while dancing wakes up the dead. Others choose to dress up like the deceased to commemorate them.
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