By: Allison Almasan, Sophomore
All throughout the globe, each country has its own traditions and celebrations. They all have adopted different ways to deal with death. The United States has Halloween, Italy has Ognissanti, India has Pitru Paksha, The Philippines has Pangangaluluwa, Poland has Dzień Zaduszny, and Mexico has El Dia de Muertos.
In Mexico, according to History.com, the Day of the Death is a colorful holiday dedicated to the ones that left this world. Though this tradition has evolved, it still one of Mexico’s most historically and culturally important events. “Mexicans celebrate death as a part of life, rather than as something to be feared” statesPeabody.harvard.edu.
The celebration varies from region to region and it takes place on October 31, November 1, and November 2. The purpose of it is to honor those who passed away. According to Dayofthedead.holiday. October 31st is the day of preparation for this celebration. November 1st is known as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”) or Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”). This day honors children and babies who passed away. November 2nd is known as Dia de Muertos because it honors the adults and elderly people. According to the Peabody Museum at Harvard, weeks before the celebrations starts, bakers and artisans begin creating an amazing display of arts and crafts like sugar skulls (calaveras), “pan de muertos” (bread of the dead), “papel picado” (cut paper), and colorful masks.
The celebration usually consists in the creation of an “ofrenda”, which consists of sugar or chocolate skulls, food, candies, bright marigolds called “cempasuchil”, the pictures of their deceased family members, and more. These altars are dedicated to the loved ones that passed away and are created to help them in the afterlife.
As Dayofthedead.holidaystates, during this celebration, people go to the graves of their loved ones to celebrate the Day of the Dead in the cemetery. The visits take place on November 1st, for those who passed away as children, and on November 2nd, for those who died as adults. Family members clean the graves and decorate them with marigolds and candles, often placing ofrendas right next to them. On the holiday, people bring offerings of food and drink to their graves to honor them, as well as precious objects belonging to them. In the case of children, their families will bring them candies and toys.
The most important symbols in the celebration are “calacas” (skeletons) and “calaveras” (skulls). According to History.com, the history of these symbols goes back to the 19thcentury when the cartoonist and printer Jose Guadalupe Posada reinvented the Aztec goddess of the underworld, Mictecacíhuatl, as a female version of a skeleton and named it “La Calavera Catrina.” Since then, she has become an icon of the Day of the Death.
This ancient Mexican tradition is really popular all around the world. With several movies like Disney’s “Coco” being created to honor this celebration. The Day of the Dead is one of the most important Mexican celebrations honoring those who passed away and will continue to be significant through the years to come.
Allison Almasan is a student at iPrep Academy. She loves to read books, dance, and listen to music. Her goal is to improve her writing skills and become a better writer.