Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead is a two-day holiday celebrated every year across Mexico on November 1st and 2nd.
The multi-day festival involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Honoring death is not a moment of sadness, but a reason for celebration. Día de Muertos is considered a holiday that reunites the living and the dead, when those who have past awaken and celebrate with their living relatives and friends.
The origins of this perspective on death and the festival date back hundreds of years to the Aztecs who held a month-long festival dedicated to the goddess Mictlancíhuatl, queen of the underworld who protected the dead and helped guide them in the afterlife.
The traditions and activities of Día de Muertos are rich with history and cultural influence.
Across Mexico families and households create bight and colorful offerings to honor their departed family members. These altars are believed to encourage visits from the departed souls to join in on the celebrations.
Mexican families set up beautifully decorated altars in their homes to help the dead on their journey to the afterlife. The ofrendas usually consist of a photo of the deceased loved one, water, the loved one’s favorite food and drinks, flowers, bread, and other items that celebrate the dead person’s life.
Marigold flowers symbolize the fragility of life and are believed to be the pathways that guide spirits to their ofrendas. The bright color and scent attract the dead and placed on altars and burial sites during Día de Muertos.
Calaveras are ubiquitous during Día de Muertos. Highly decorated and painted with smiles, the calveras are often made from sugar or clay and places on the altars.
One of the most recognizable symbols of the holiday is La Catrina, a tall female skeleton wearing a fancy hat with feathers and flowers. During the festival, people of all ages dress in in colorful, elegant face makeup and dress to evoke La Catrina.
Mexico knows food! There is no celebrating without food in Mexico. Part of the Día de Muertos tradition is to offer food to the deceased as part of the altars. Customary foods are prepared during the Día de Los Muertos and are shared with family, neighbors, strangers, and the visiting spirits. Pan de Muerto, or day of the dead bread, is an essential part of the festivities and is also placed on the altars.
We invite you to join us over the next few days (Oct 26-Nov 01) as we share on NIZUC’s Instagram everything you need to bring one of Mexico’s most important cultural holidays into your home with an explosion of colour and life-affirming joy. We look forward to sharing our traditions with you #DíadeMuertosNIZUC