Did you know that Halloween time is seen as a time of remembrance and celebration in other cultures?
Most of us are familiar with the October 31st holiday of Halloween, where children (and adults) dress up in costume and go out in search of candy while spooky, scary events are happening all around. But did you know that Halloween time is seen as a time of remembrance and celebration in other cultures? That’s how Hispanic cultures celebrate the “Day of the Dead”, or Dia de los Muertos. Dia de los Muertos is a time of dancing, celebration, and wild amounts of colour to honour and celebrate those who have departed from the physical world.
Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, which the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, though it is not directly related to those religious observances. While it is a recognized national holiday in Mexico, it is celebrated in many countries around the world, including Guatemala, Brazil, Spain, and many communities in the United States. This holiday can be traced back nearly 3,000 years ago to the Aztec celebration of Mictecacihuatl, the goddess of the underworld.
On this two-day holiday, it is believed that the souls of deceased return to earth to commune with their families. The first day is dedicated to the celebration of the lives of children, and the second day is left to honour the souls of adults that have passed on. The deceased are honoured by families creating “ofrendas”, or homemade altars where candy and toys are left for children and favourite foods, possessions, and photos are left to honour and remember the adults. Typically, items at an ofrenda include colourful “papel picado”, flowers, pictures of saints, water and salt to keep returning loved ones hydrated, and candle for each of the deceased that is being celebrated to help guide the way home. Families will then go to the cemetery to clean and decorate the gravesites of their loved ones and have feasts, music, and dancing in celebration and remembrance of their relatives’ lives.
While there are many traditional foods and beverages served on the Day of the Dead, one of the most popular is “pan de muerto”, or bread of the dead. This bread is a sweet pastry type of bread served in round loaves and adorned with bread shaped like bones and then decorated with sugar. See the recipes section of this edition of the Alte if you’d like to try to bake some for yourself!
Another common symbol associated with the Day of the Dead are Calaveras, or caricatures of skulls or skeletons depicted in common places, like churches or weddings, or in certain occupational positions, such as musicians, dancers, policemen, or politicians. This tradition may be credited to Jose Posada, who drew the caricature of “La Catrina”, a wealthy nineteenth century woman which mocks anyone who takes pleasure in materialistic things. This imagery lends itself to focus on the afterlife instead of the material world, following the spirit of the Day of the Dead.
Many other countries and cultures have similar days of remembrance where families clean gravesites and have celebrations in honour of the dead including Africa, China, Japan, and Korea. What a fun way to remember and celebrate your loved ones every year!
http://www.ibtimes.com/what-dia-de-los- ... os-1448084
https://www.mexicansugarskull.com/suppo ... story.html