Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.
Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. It was moved to October 31, November 1 and November 2 to coincide with the Western Christian All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves. (source: Wikipedia)
The monarch butterflies also reach Mexico after their long migration at the same time of the Day of the Dead celebration. According to traditional belief, the monarchs are the souls of ancestors who are returning to earth for their annual visit. Check on the progress of the monarch butterfly’s amazing migration!
Videos about Day of the Dead
- BBC World documentary – Dia de los Muertos (~12 min) – gives an upclose experience of the Day of the Dead celebration
- Dia de los Muertos | Film School Shorts (~3 min) – very sweet video about a girl who lost her mother
Ways to celebrate
- Read books about Day of the Dead
- Write a poem in honor of a loved one
- Make a Sugar Skull mask like this one:
- Decorate an ‘altar’ (mantel piece, table, etc.) with flowers, candles, and photos of loved ones that have passed away.
- Take some time to tell stories about those you have lost
- Celebrate with a feast and your favorite mexican food!
- Learner.org – Here’s a great website to further explore this holiday