dia de los muertos alter featuring flowers, a candle, and pictures of loved ones that have passed away, placed on a table

Photo Courtesy of - Hallmark, diy-papel-picado

 

Written by: Sabrina Cabrera Rivera

 

It is fall and we are feeling the crisp chill in the air and the changing colors of the seasons. Everything is decorated with fake cobwebs and spooky monsters that go bump in the night. Some of us are getting ready for a socially distant Halloween, while others might stay in with a comfy blanket and watch a scary movie in our new tie dye shirts (new collection out now!). And while some ghosts may come out to play for a night we hope they come visit the following days for us to celebrate their passing. 

 

On November first and second is when  some of us in the Latinx community celebrate the Day of the Dead or as we know it, Dia de los Muertos. It is a holiday that is celebrated in Mexico and throughout Latin America, where the living are able to reunite with their loved ones who have passed. 

 

It wasn’t until more recent years that we see references of this holiday in pop culture. We have seen it in movies like the “Book of Life” and the Disney movie, Coco”, which held an all Latinx cast. We have seen makeup gurus use sugar skulls or calavera inspired looks! Our personal favorites being those of our Latinx friends going into a more traditional route and bringing out the beauty of the culture.

COCO, from left: Abuelita (Renee Victor), Miguel (voice: Anthony Gonzalez), 2017. © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

 


How do people celebrate Dia de Los muertos?

During the multi-day holiday, families often create an altar decorated with marigold flowers, the petals are believed to create a path for the spirits to follow, and photos of the departed, along with the departed’s favorite foods and drinks. It is believed that offerings would encourage visits from the land of the dead as the departed souls hear their families prayers. 


On the first day, we celebrate the children who have passed. It is called Dia de los innocents or Dia de los Angelitos ( translations being Day of the innocents or Day of the Angels), where people would leave snacks, candy, and toys for the young souls. 


On the second day, it is for the adults who have passed, Dia de los Difuntos. Most offerings are grown such as tequila, Pan de muerto, soccer/football jerseys, mezcal. It is when families reminisce in old memories. It is made as a night to be filled with laughter and happiness. Once it hits noon on the second day, it becomes a public celebration for all of the spirits of the dead. People in the cities will come together and dress up with calavera or skulls painted on their faces. They will hold parades in the streets before families will go to the cemetery to decorate their loved ones grave sites with Marigold flowers, gifts, and sugar skulls with the departed’s name on them. 

 

 Above image, courtesy of -  lilylove213

It is important to remember, while Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are celebrated around the same time of year, they are two different holidays. Dia de los Muertos is a celebration about life after death and we should be able to give it the respect it deserves as a holiday. 

octubre 27, 2020 — Sabrina Cabrera Rivera

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