Dia De Los Muertos

When I hear someone talk about Dia De Los Muertos it’s easy for me to immediately  think of beautifully decorated sugar skulls put on display in the “Seasonal” section of convenience stores. This past week alone I’ve seen at least 10 individual photos on Instagram of my friends’ finished attempts at painting their faces, trying to make them resemble ornate skulls. Although each one of their face paintings have turned out looking incredible, most do not know why this is done by the Mexican culture every single time it nears Halloween. Even I, as mentioned earlier, sometimes forget to remember the significance of Dia De Los Muertos.

Those who do not know the meaning behind it think of it as the “Mexican version” of Halloween, and in some ways it is. Similar to Halloween, this holiday gathers family members and friends together. What sets both holidays apart is that Dia De Los Muertos focuses on gathering family members and friends to pray, remember, and celebrate loved ones who have passed away. Rather than make it a somber remembrance for those who have died it is a celebration of their life. Halloween, on the other hand, is said to use “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death”. The belief with BOTH of these holidays is that the spirits of the deceased are able to come back to earth. This day is a transition between our world and the world of the dead.

I won’t be going into extreme detail over everything related to Dia De Los Muertos, but I do think it would be beneficial to list key information for those who aren’t familiar with this holiday. Next time someone brings up Dia De Los Muertos you can impress them with some newfound knowledge:

  • This day has its origins in Aztec, Mayan, and other Meso-American Civilizations.
  • Individuals believe that souls of the dead rest in Mictlan, the land of the dead, and wait for the day each year when they can return to visit their loved ones.
  • It is a two-day celebration that takes place on the 1st and continues throughout the 2nd of November.
  • Nov. 1st is Dia De Los Inocentes. A day to honor children and infants who have died. It is sometimes referred to as Dia De Los Angelitos, or “Day of the Little Angels”
  • Nov. 2nd is the actual “Day of the Dead”.
  • To celebrate, people build ofrendas, or altars, that are decorated with items that are said to be attractive to souls of the departed ones (this is where the decorated skulls come in). Other items include offerings of flowers, old possessions, and photographs.
  • Orange marigolds, the Aztec’s flower of the dead, is used to entice the dead.
  • Skull-face painting is based off of a sketching by artist Jose Guadalupe Posada entitled “La Calavera Catrina”.

Posada2.Catrina

We’re dying to see you at “Aye, No!” this coming November!

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