Dia de los Muertos (Mexico) (2014-11-01 - 2014-11-02)
Día de los Muertos is the oldest ethnic and religions holiday in Mexico celebrated on November 2nd. Celebrations are lasting two days: the first one is related to “los angelitos” (angels) which is mostly a holiday for children, and the second - Day of the Dead, more formal holiday for adults.
The holiday is observed mostly in Mexico and Central America, however it is celebrated in a few US regions as well, as an alternative to commercialized Halloween.
Día de los Muertos celebrations can be traced back to the indigenous cultures, when it was common to keep skulls as trophies, symbolizing rebirth and death. When in XVII century, Spanish Conquistador arrived to America, they were indignant at locals' customs and they were forcing them to convert to Catholicism. As a result of Christian traditions and indigenous customs a new holiday was proclaimed – Day of the Dead - Día de los Muertos.
The Day of the Dead in Mexico has two faces. First one is commemorating deceased in a pathetic and formal way, and the second one is a festival. Mexicans are not afraid of dying and are treating it as something natural. Thanks to that they can celebrate Day of the Dead in a humorous way, with feasts and no sadness. Mostly, it is a time of happiness, when everyone is dancing and singing.
The most important customs and symbols related to Day of The Dead are:
family gatherings in a cemeteries, where they can communicate with the souls of the departed. People are having dinner together and are recalling their dead relatives. Before the main celebrations families are decorating their loved ones graves with Mexican marigolds called “cempasúchitl”. These flowers are attracting souls of the dead to the offerings.
Skulls (Calaveritas) which are a common symbol of the holiday. Celebrants represent them in masks and food, such as sugar skulls, chocolate skulls and pan de muerto (egg bread). Calaveras mean also a short poem, mocking epitaphs of friends, that describe interesting habits or funny anecdotes.
Dishes, such as pan de muero – sweet egg bread or calaveras de dulce – sugar skulls, sometimes they are spiced up with tequila or chocolate. There are also all sorts of desserts, like cakes shaped like a corpse or coffin. They are main decorations in houses, shops and offices during Día de los Muertos.
Flowers. On November 1st and 2nd families are decorating graves of their relatives. The most popular flowers are Mexican marigolds, but roses and sunflowers are common as well.
Visiting graves and preparing altars, which commemorates dead relatives. On November 1st, parents are coming to cemeteries to visit their dead children. On the 2nd of November people are visiting their dead adult relatives. When a family can not visit cometary during these days, they are preparing altars at home, which are commemorating their dead relatives. The most popular offerings during these days are: pan de muero and glasses with water, bottles of mezcal, tequila, palque or atole, and cigars for adults, and for children – toys. Everything is put around pictures of dead relatives and candles, so that dead can celebrate with their alive families.
On the Day of the Dead Mexican cementers are full of people, who are sitting on the graves and celebrating – drinking alcohol, smoking cigars, eat and sing songs. Mexicans believe that their dead relatives are coming back during that day, to celebrate together and do the same staff as they did when they were alive. People are spending hours on cemeteries listening to Mexican bands, that are playing happy and lively music.
Take this opportunity and send Dia de los Muertos cards, ecards, greetings, wishes.