Greetings For Day Of The Dead
Wednesday 2nd November is Day of the Dead in Mexico, but Día de los Muertos, as it is known locally, is not a Mexican version of Halloween.
Where Halloween’s theme is to ward off ghouls and ghosts by embracing mischief, Day of the Dead is for demonstrating love and respect for deceased family members.
Festivities unfold over the first two days of November in an explosion of colour, where revellers throughout the country don funky makeup and costumes, and hold parades and parties.
Five More Things To Know About Day Of The Dead
1. The holiday dates back thousands of years.
Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. They believed that the dead were still members of the community, and it was important to keep them alive in memory and spirit during Day of the Dead.
2. Altars are an important part of the tradition.
The centerpiece of Day of the Dead celebrations is an altar built in private homes and cemeteries. These aren’t altars for worshipping, they’re meant to welcome spirits back to the realm of the living and they are loaded with offerings, such as water, food, family photos, and a candle for each dead relative. Marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate the altar. Marigold petals are believed to guide wandering souls back to their place of rest.
3. Families bring food for the dead.
Traditional belief is that spirits work up hunger and thirst traveling to the realm of the living. Therefore, some families place their dead loved one’s favorite meal on the altar, or ‘Pan de muerto’ (bread of the dead), decorated with bones and skulls made from dough. Drinks to celebrate the holiday include a sweet fermented beverage called ‘pulque’, a thin warm porridge made from corn flour called ‘atole’ and hot chocolate.
4. Streets are decorated in papel picado
Papel picado is a Mexican paper craft made from stacks of coloured tissue paper in dozens of layers, which is then perforated with hammers and chisel points. Papel picado isn’t used exclusively during Day of the Dead, but it plays an important role in the holiday. Draped around altars and in the streets, the art represents the wind and fragility of life.
5. Mexico City hosts the iconic parade.
For more than a dozen years, Mexico City has hosted the largest Day of the Dead celebration. Usually held the weekend before the day itself, the grand parade was held on Saturday 29th October this year.