Day of the Dead is one of the most important celebrations in Mexico. Also known as Dia De Los Muertos, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Day of the Dead is characterized for being a colorful celebration and historical part of Mexico’s culture. During November 1st through November 3rd, families visit the graves of their departed loved ones during this annual event. Colorful flowers, foods, toys, drinks, flowers and spices are placed on the grave sites of loved ones as it is said that during this time “heaven opens up its gates and allows the souls of the departed to roam the earth”
While the day is a national holiday in Mexico, the festival is also celebrated in Brazil, Spain, the Philippines and parts of the US. Many regions celebrate this day differently, but the purpose remains the same; to welcome the souls of loved ones, feed them and comfort them during their visit back to earth. Here are a few ways to celebrate the Day of the Dead with your family and loved ones.
Every year, Mexicans gather in cemeteries to remember their departed family members. Relatives will create altars for their loved ones featuring the departed ones favorite foods, drinks, and objects of affection. We place images of them to remember their presence and candles to light a path for them through out the night while they visit us.
It is said that will our loved ones come down from the skies to visit us, they come to eat and drink with us. So we offer our guests latin american favorite antojitos (treats) like pan dulce, marzipan, tamales, flan and more. Or set a table with fun and festive celebratory foods like pan de muerto, sugar skull cookies, marzipan and sugar skulls for a delightful gathering.
During this day we have to show our guests that we remember them with happiness. Dancing and singing is important in order to make the spirits feel welcome. Play music that reminds you of great times of the loved ones you are honoring. If you’re having a party, might we recommend playing favorites among the latin community such as Celia Cruz, Tigres Del Norte and Vicente Fernandez, or check out some fun playlists online like this Dia De Los Muertos playlist from Urban Junkies or this Day of the Dead playlist from Free Radio archives.
Octavio Paz, one of Latin America’s most famous writers, noted: ¨The Mexican… is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates with it… at least death is not hidden away: he looks at it face to face, with impatience disdain or irony.” During this day we honor and celebrate our loved ones who have left this earth. When they come back we wish to remember our greatest memories of them. What better way to honor our loved ones than by remembering their presence. Sit around your altar and share your favorite memories and stories of your deceased loved ones, as they might be right there with you listening and smiling along with you.
On this day we hope that you have learned a little bit about a different culture. Check out your local cemeteries and visit some beautiful altars dedicated to the souls of loved ones. We hope you enjoy and embrace the honoring and remembrance of souls whom have left but are never forgotten.