Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), observed primarily on November 2nd, but celebrated through-out many regions of Mexico from late October to early November, is a time to honor and remember loved ones who have passed. More than a celebration of death, it’s a celebration of the life they lead—the unity of life and death—the end of an earthly existence, and the beginning of a joining with those who have passed before them.
Celebrated in various regions of Mexico beginning on the 25th of October and ending on the 2nd of November, each day pays homage to people who passed in different ways. From a day dedicated to those who died due to an accident, to those that drowned, did not have family members to remember them, were orphaned, or criminals. Probably the most widely known, and celebrated on the 1st of November, is for the children, referred as ‘little angels’, with all other deceased remembered on the 2nd of November.
A ritual dating back to the Pre-Hispanic era, it’s a tradition that has evolved in combining different cultures and beliefs from the many people of Mexico, through the colonial to current generations. As the indigenous people of this pre-colonial era stood their ground in preserving their celebration of life and death, it was the blending of religious (from the Spanish) and native customs that developed into what today is one of the largest traditions Mexico is known for.
During this time in early Fall, friends and family members gather to offer hospitality and homage to the spirits of the deceased. Creating from simple to elaborate altars in their homes and cemeteries, decorating with orange ‘cempasúchil’ flowers (Mexican marigolds), the loved one’s favorite foods and drinks including ‘pan de muerto’, as well as pictures and other special objects with personal symbolism to them.
It is said the vibrancy of the orange marigolds represents the path the spirits need to take to return home and give solace to the family members that are still alive, while the candles brighten the dark way through transcending the tomb.
Declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO in 2003, its significance in preserving the heritage of the Mexican people is important in also conserving cultural diversity world-wide. Because of this, we at Artelexia are honored to celebrate the many other traditions of Mexico all-year-long, but especially during these Autumn festivities when we feel closer to our ancestors who instilled in us the pride to be of Mexican descent.
What's your favorite memory of celebrating Dia de Muertos? Please share with us in the comments below.