Halloweek: Day of the Dead

Saturday, November 01, 2014

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Happy Halloween!

This week I decided to change things up, since Halloween was on a Friday this year! I've done a Halloween-themed post every day this week up until today, Halloween, as a part of something I'm calling "Halloweek." I hope you guys enjoyed it! Check out my last post here, where I gave costume ideas for the Procrastinators.

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Today I was going to post about how my Halloween went, but since it didn't go so well I thought I'd change it up and talk about another day that has to do with the deceased: Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos! [All info from Wikipedia and Smithsonian Latino Center]

Typically when people hear 'Day of the Dead,' the first things that come into our heads are probably sugar skulls and Mexico.

Well, the Day of the Dead is a bit more than that, obviously, but what exactly is it? Read on, to learn more about Dia de Los Muertos!

What is it?

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that honors the dead by creating ofrendas (altars) in homes, which display portraits, favorite foods, and special possessions of the loved ones. People also visit the graves of their loved ones and clean the headstones, decorate them with flowers and bring food and music. The celebration begins on October 31 and ends on November 2 (October 31 - Halloween, November 1 - All Saints Day, November 2 All Souls Day/Day of the Dead.)

According to the Smithsonian, for Mesoamericans, "death did not mean the end of one's life but rather through death, new life was created." The Day of the Dead is not seen as a scary or sad occasion, instead, it's seen as a way of honoring family members who have passed. A key takeaway from this celebration is the fact that death isn't meant to be feared, but is seen as a natural part of life.

The Ofrenda

An example of an ofrenda.
The Ofrenda, or altar, is an important part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. It's created as way to welcome the spirits back into their homes and is done so by placing gifts for the deceased. These gifts are actually significant objects which include four significant elements: water, wind, fire and earth.

Water is given to quench the thirst of the spirt's after their long journey and it's usually put in a clay pitcher or a glass.

Fire is portrayed through candles, while wind is signified through papel picado, or punched paper. Earth is represented through food, usually pan de muerto, or bread of the dead. Other food and drink that the deceased enjoyed, flowers, pictures of the deceased, and religious items are also left on the altar to make sure that the deceased have everything they need for their journey back.

You may have also seen the sugar skulls, or calaveras de azucar, pop up whenever you hear about the Day of the Dead. Calaveras are also offered and placed at the altars and are kind of seen as the "mascot" of the celebration.

Interesting Facts

A Marigold flower
1) According to the Huffington Post, legend has it that butterflies are the souls of the deceased returning to Earth.

2) November 1 is to commemorate the deceased children and infants (Dia de Los Inocentes) and November 2 is to commemorate adults who have passed (Dia de Los Difuntos). (Source - Latin Times)

3) Marigold is the official flower used to honor the dead. The yellow color represents life and hope. (Source - Latin Times)

And there it is, a short summary of Dia de Los Muertos! I hope you guys have learned at least one new thing about this celebration, if so I'd like to know what it is in the comments below! If you haven't learned anything new, I would love to, so leave something I might have left out in the comments below! (:

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