Living in Mexico is a wonderful opportunity to experience unique celebrations, full of life and passions. One of such is the Dia de los muertos, which means “Day of the Dead”, and takes place today: November 2th.
Day of the Dead is a very popular and beautiful tradition among Mexican people. Its actually a mixture of cultures, combining the Christian devotion with Pre-hispanic rituals and beliefs. A true party for the senses, a showcase of colors, smells, flavors, and sounds, all in one.
People make altars for their death people, where they place pictures of the deceased, as well as belongings and things, dishes, and food the person enjoyed in life. In the case of kids, toys are placed as well. This was thought to help the death people with their journey to eternal life. Flowers and candles are also a must.
While it could seem as a somewhat sad tradition, Day of the Dead is a very happy, festive, and respectful one, where death is regarded as a peaceful and transitional place for people: a place in between life and eternity.
Day of the Dead is a holiday which extends itself (as most holidays do) along late October and November. There are several iconic elements: flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and “death” bread (pretty yummy!).
All being said, it’s quite obvious Day of Dead is not the same as Halloween, though some people tend to confuse them. Here in Mexico, one is able to find the most diverse opinions regarding both traditions. It’s almost as if it was a popularity contest between both!
I personally believe there is place enough for both traditions. My siblings and I had the wonderful opportunity of growing up with Halloween and Day of Dead. Even as a kid, you are able to understand the difference between them, and totally enjoy both. Embrace both. Actually, I think Halloween and Day of Dead are complementary traditions, not excluding ones. Celebrating one, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or couldn’t celebrate the other (I know, it sounds obvious, but it isn’t as clear for some people).
If you’d like to experience Day of Dead, I urge you to come visit Mexico. This is a total experience, and you’ll absolutely love it!