Have you ever been going about your life when something amazing comes around and changes your perspective? That’s what happened to me when I finally watched “The Book of Life”. I had heard of Día Del Los Muertos before and thought that the idea behind it was cool, but that was it. It wasn’t until I watched that movie that I decided to take a closer look at the Mexican holiday. Since Halloween and Día Del Los Muertos falls close to each other, I thought I would write about both.
Halloween vs Día De Los Muertos
First things first, Día De Los Muertos is NOT Mexican Halloween. Halloween and Día De Los Muertos have completely different backgrounds, Halloween started from Celtics and is meant to scare off ghosts whereas Día De Los Muertos, invites ghosts and try to draw ghosts near. Halloween has become more commercialized and has lost most of its meaning, while Día De Los Muertos although communalized as well, still holds its original meaning of honoring those that have passed. Halloween is dark and gloomy while Día De Los Muertos is colorful and fun.
Traditions Behind the Holiday
Día De Los Muertos is steeped in ancient traditions although it varies throughout the country. Some common traditions include Alters called Ofrendas, these alters have the picture of the deceased, flowers, candles, special items of the deceased and food covering them. This and the deceased’s gravesite are where the memories and celebrations occur. Sharing memories is another tradition. Funny stories, poems, and favorite memories are shared about the deceased loved ones. Don’t forget to dress up!
Offerings are made to the dead life their favorite foods, Pan De Muertos, and sugar skulls. The main traditions and association with this holiday are skeletons and sugar skulls. Skeletons are very common and sugar skulls are the favorite treat of the holiday.
It’s a party so you have to have decorations! The main colors are orange and purple. Everything is covered in flowers and skeletons. Marigolds are the most common flower used. They are indigenous to Mexico. Marigolds also have a strong scent and bright orange color and is traditionally used to attract spirits. The most famous skeleton is Catrina, a female skeleton in elegant clothing. Colorful paper crafts such as this:
What Food is Served?
Like any holiday, food is a big part of Día De Los Muertos. Traditionally the favorite food and drink of the deceased is served as well as tamales. Pan De Muertos or bread of the dead is a staple along with sugar skulls. Sugar skulls can be candy or can be used for decorations.
Where is it Celebrated?
Although Día De Los Muertos originated in Mexico, it is celebrated widely across the world, from the United States, Belize, Brazil, Ecuador and many more. I do not personally celebrate Día De Los Muertos but thought it was worth more than a passing mention in a society swarming with everything Halloween.