Día de los Muertos: An Ancient Tradition That Lives on Today


Día de Los Muertos is a traditional holiday that developed and has been widely observed in Mexico. This tradition is celebrated through November 1 and 2. It was passed as a day of enlightenment and enjoyment after Halloween, rather than a mourning for people.

This tradition consists of family and friends gathering to pay respects, and to remember past funny, humorous memories with those who have passed away.

Día de los Muertos involves specific symbols like calaveras (skulls) and marigold flowers. Ofrendas, or home altars are created and decorated with the favorite foods, beverages, and pictures of the ones who passed. These ofrendas are usually placed in people’s homes or public graveyards where people visit and leave gifts to their loved ones.

Calaveras are one of the common symbols; people make masks or makeup of them and roam around to awaken their ancestors. Food in the shape of calaveras is also made, such as, bread, candies, and frosting.

This celebration is mostly focused on the gifts, for example, calaveras de azúcar (candy sugar skulls), pan de muerto (sweet bread), and written letters to those who passed. Toys are brought for the dead children and tequila, mezcal, or pulque for adults.

People are devoted to this tradition because they believe the spirits of the dead eat the “spiritual essence” of the food off of the ofrendas. The food is eaten by both, the living, and dead, given to the spirits of their ancestors.

The graves are decorated with pillows and blankets so the dead can rest after their long journey. People that visit the graveyards spend all night beside their loved ones’ graves or have picnics as well.

As a way of “waking” up their loved ones, people may even dress up as the dead, wearing ‘loud clothing’, with bright colors, bold patterns, big dresses, and skeletons.

This festivity that is celebrated within Hispanic culture, has greatly impacted some parts of the United States as well. Día de Los Muertos is a popular holiday to come together as a family to remember all the diverting recollections you share with their loved ones who have passed.