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Dia de los muertos/Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead Facts
- A Mexican holiday which is also celebrated to a lesser extent in Latin America and some parts of the USA. Originally it was not celebrated in Northern Mexico who instead favoured the traditional All Saints Day. It became a public holiday in Mexico in the 1960s, in part because the government hoped it would function as a unifying national tradition.
- Believed to have evolved from an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. This festival took place in August and lasted for a month.
- It was once celebrated in summer but was moved to October 31, November 1 and November 2 around the 16th Century due to the Spanish Colonization.
- It is recognised as a significant example of the cultural heritage of Humanity and was officially recognised as such in 2008.
- Focused on remembering and honouring those who have passed over. It has evolved over time so that November 1 honours dead children and infants (Dia de los Inocentes or Dia de los Angelitos) and November 2 remembers deceased adults (Dia de los Muertos or Dia de los Difuntos).
- Some believe that Dia de los muertos is a lucky day and will buy Day of the Dead dolls and memorabilia to keep with them for the rest of the year.
- There are a number of traditional foods.
- Traditions include building ofrendas and offering tributes to those who have died, which can include leaving gifts of sugar skulls, flowers (orange marigolds) or food at the grave of the deceased. Toys may also be left at the graves of children. Pillows and blankets are sometimes provided so that the dead may rest after their journey.
- Traditions may differ based on location. In Ocotepec you may visit homes of those who have lost someone in the previous year in return for a gift of veladoras (religious candles). In Patzcuaro there is a tradition specifically related to the loss of a child. On November 1 of the year following the child’s death the godparents must set a table filled with sweets and other traditional foods, a cross, a rosary and candles.
As always, if you have stories about this festival or would like to make any corrections to the information supplied then please contact me. I’d also love to hear about any local festivals you might practice or know about.
Did you enjoy reading about this festival? I am attempting to create more posts about festivals from around the world.