Whats a Mexican holiday that most people will have seen or heard of? Día de los Muertos or Day of the dead of course! This holiday is one tradition that again stems from the Aztecs and other old civilisations.
If you aren’t aware of what it’s about, I’ll go through some of the key things, such as the history as well as what to expect. Firstly, the history behind the holiday. Originating thousands of years ago during the time of the Aztecs, Toltecs and other Nahua people. These people believed that the mourning of those who had died to be disrespectful. This is due to death being a natural phase in life. The dead are never really gone as they are kept alive in memory and spirits, and on the day of the dead, they return to the earth. Only temporarily though. Disney fans will have an understanding of this holiday from the film Coco.
There are altars that are built in private homes or cemeteries, but these altars are not used for worshipping, they are used to welcome the spirits back to the land of the living. Each altar is filled with offerings to the spirits such as water, food and family photos, as well as candle for each of the dead family members.
With this being a celebration of life, day of the dead is an extremely social holiday that not only is celebrated in peoples homes, but also in the streets. They can go on day & night and dressing up as a skeleton as part of the fun! As you wander through the streets during this holiday, you’ll find people of all ages dressing up, which painted faces which most people will recognise as skulls, which resemble the Calavera Catrina. You’ll also see people in intricate and ornate suits/dresses. Finally among all these costumes and people will wear shells as well as noisemakers to help build up excitement for the dead who are resisting their loved ones.
Whilst it’s all well and good to read this, but this is something one should experience themselves in person. At Lengua y Cultura we would use this holiday as a perfect teaching experience and would take our students to the streets as well as cooking up food of the dead!