Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead is celebrated each year from October 31 to November 2.

Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos is a lot like Halloween. But it’s 3 days instead of 1!
This holiday, just like Halloween, originates form several holidays mixed into one.

StockSnap / Pixabay

The place that we now know as Mexico had it’s own tradition among it’s original inhabitants that date back many millennia.
Among which were the Aztecs who  had in common with the mainly European immigrants that those traditions around that time revolved around harvest and honoring deceased ancestors.
The indigenous people had a month long festival honoring the goddess Mictēcacihuātl, known as “Lady of the Dead”.
This is why Day of the Dead has many Aztec influences in it.

Mictēcacihuātl rules the Mictlān, the domain of the dead, along with her mate Mictlāntēcutli.
She has a mostly flayed body with a bony face and sagging breast to depict the ravages of time. Her skirt is made of serpents which are both predators but also symbols of rebirth because of their ability to shed their skin.
Mictēcacihuātl is mostly depicted with her mouth wide open because she swallows the star by daytime, so you can only see them shine at night.

The Aztec influences makes Day of the Dead more of a festival that puts emphasis on feeling close to the deceased, to celebrate like they are among us this day and not to be afraid of the inevitable.
Many of the decorations depict the dead mingling with the living and doing all kinds of happy stuff. They are not to be afraid of, because they are our family and friends.

21150 / Pixabay

The sinfully sweet sugar skulls are partly to blame on 17th-century Italian missionaries. Because Italians love their finely decorated sugary sweets.
The altars with pictures of all the dead relatives and friends, decorated with flowers and pretty things and with offerings of foods and drinks. Those have elements from both the Aztec beliefs and catholic traditions.

The theme of Day of the Dead is probably best summarized as:
“Death can never part us, as long as we party together.”

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