By: Lupe Cueller
El Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is not the Mexican version of Halloween. Unlike Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos isn’t meant to be spooky, but rather a time when family members can demonstrate love and respect for deceased loved ones.
This annual celebration spans from October 31st to November 2nd, and originated in central and southern Mexico and dates back 3,000 years to the era of the Aztecs. Those who celebrate it believe that at midnight on October 31st, the souls of deceased children come down from heaven and reunite with their families on November 1st, and the souls of deceased adults come to visit on November 2nd.
Throughout Mexico, people wear unique costumes and makeup, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to their lost loved ones. Families make colorful altars in their homes in honor of their loved ones, and decorate them with flowers, candles, their loved one’s favorite food, and pan de muerto (a slightly sweet bread made specifically for this event). The families continue the festivities in the cemetery, where families bring picnics, play music, recollect on the moments they once shared with their loved ones, and sometimes even spend the night as a way to celebrate the life of those who are no longer with us. A common tradition is the making of Calaveras de Azucar or sugar skulls.
El Dia de Los Muertos is more than just a day to celebrate lost loved ones, but it represents the Mexican culture and their deepest values.