“DIA DE LOS MUERTOS”– The Day of the Dead, is a holiday celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It is a celebration of the lives of the deceased. UNESCO added “DIA DE LOS MUERTOS” (a Spanish word of The Day of the Dead) to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.
It is a tradition of Mexico, but it is celebrated throughout the whole of Latin America. Each city has its way of celebrating. They have different customs.
Dead is nothing we have to afraid of. It’s just a part of life that we have to accept. In Mexican culture, it is an important part. Death is something that is marked by sadness as we lose someone. Mexican people treat death not with sadness, not like someone who is not with us but like someone who is still with us.
Features of The Day of the Dead
Popular symbols of “DIA DE LOS MUERTOS” are skulls and skeletons. They appear as candies, dolls, masks etc. The smell of flowers (Marigold) used on this day make the surrounding environment very impressive. The environment appears as the place beyond life. People are full of joy.
It is celebrated through food, drinks and various activities. On this day, families clean the graveyard of their dead loved ones. They eat together, listen to music and remember their loved ones.
On this day it is believed that dead ones wake up from their sleep. They don’t take the offerings made by their family members but instead, they take the spirit of things love from their family members.
The day of the dead also symbolises that how new things are changing in our day to day life but still, people are preserving the traditional culture.
The process of acculturation is very common to every society so this Mexican culture is a mix of different pre-Hispanic (time before the Spanish conquest in the western hemisphere) Meso- American cultures (Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Toltec and Aztec)
It is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Both are different in way of their celebrations, theme, origin, beliefs, rituals etc.
It is a great thing to celebrate even death. It is a positive attitude towards the most difficult phase of life. People always live in memories. Why we can’t just enjoy such memories as we cannot reverse the process of death?
So simply DIA DE LOS MUERTOS is a beautiful loving celebration of life and death. It is such a vibrant culture.
The British Museum