Los Dias de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexico holiday honoring the dead. Los Dias de los Muertos is not a sad time, but instead a time of remembering and rejoicing.
When is it?
It is celebrated every year at the same time as Halloween and the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day (November 1st and 2nd).
Where is it celebrated?
It is celebrated in Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala, and other areas in Central and South America populated with the Latino ethnic background. The Day of the Dead is also celebrated in areas of the United States, such as California, Texas, and many others, in which the Mexican/American heritage exists.
In the homes families arrange ofrenda's or "altars" with flowers, bread, fruit and candy. Pictures of the deceased family members are added. In the late afternoon special all night burning candles are lit - it is time to remember the departed - the old ones, their parents and grandparents.
Altars should include:
A picture of the one being remembered
Items they were fond of
Something to snack on
Pan de los Muertos
Special loaves of bread are baked, called pan de muertos , and decorated with "bones.
During los Dias de los Muertos the yellow marigold symbolizes the short duration of life.
Other flowers commonly seen during this celebration include the white amaryllis, wild orchids, baby's breath and ruby coxcombs are offered as adornment and enticement for the returning spirits.
Wreaths made of flowers, both real and plastic, are often placed on the grave sites.
Traditions: Papel Picado
Papel Picado is a traditional art used to decorate homes, businesses, markets and altars in preparation for the Day of the Dead.
The thin tissue paper images are usually cut in large quantities and hung in repetitious patterns.
Skeletons and skulls are found everywhere. Chocolate skulls, marzipan coffins, and white chocolate skeletons.
Handmade skeleton figurines, called c alacas , are especially popular. Calacas usually show an active and joyful afterlife. Figures of musicians, generals on horseback, even skeletal brides, in their white bridal gowns marching down the aisles with their boney grooms.