Dia de los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead,” has been a tradition in Mexico for over 3,000 years originating from the Aztecs.
Celebrated by Latinos across the globe, it has been on the rise in the U.S.A., which shouldn’t be a surprise given that there are 55 million hispanic citizens living there.
While it’s predominantly a Mexican-celebrated holiday, it’s recently been acknowledged internationally by multiple cultures to include Italy, Spain and the Philippines. It takes place between Nov. 1-2 and coincides with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, holidays on the Christian calendar.
Being a tradition that has lasted for thousands of years, it’s almost guaranteed for celebratory customs to change. It used to be celebrated in the summer. Then was changed to celebrate the whole month of August. Now, most commonly it is celebrated on two days. And as of today, the first day is meant to celebrate the loss of the young and innocent, while the next day is the time to celebrate the lives of the adults lost.
For some, this holiday can get quite expensive with all the food — for the living and the dead. The children spirits receive toys and candy while the adult gets the better end of the deal with cigarettes and liquor. In exchange for keeping the spirits happy with celebrations and food, the family is in return granted protection and luck throughout their own lives.
The most important part of these celebrations is simple – it’s not a time to mourn, but rather to understand the short journey that we call life and celebrate the lives of the deceased with food, drinks, and most important, parties because after all, it is a Mexican holiday. Perhaps the easiest way to tell when Dia de los Muertos begins is with the appearances of calacas and calaveras, found in something as delicious as candy or as colorful as a mask or doll.
Speaking from experience, Mexican culture is deeply rooted in family and religion. Dia de los Muertos shows just that; on the last day of celebrations, family and friends gather alongside their relatives’ graves with lit candles and decorate their loved ones’ tombstones, one final act of festivity to commemorate the deceased.