The living celebrating on Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

Chriselis Flete

Journalism Student

The fiesta known as “The Day of the Dead” is making its way down Mexico’s roads. It takes place on the first and second days of November.

  The Day of the Dead, or “El día de los Muertos” is a tradition that goes back over 2,500 years. Back then, the celebration took place in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, and it lasted for a month.

  During the past few years, The Day of the Dead has reached out to America, where it is also being celebrated. The belief surrounding the holiday is that the soul is eternal and has an ability to travel, which enables it to visit loved ones.

  Also, there are important aspects such as setting up an altar in memory of the deceased. Offerings are incorporated onto the altars and each would represent the four elements of nature: water, wind, fire, and earth. Fire is usually associated with candles, while earth is associated with flowers.

  The offerings themselves are bread, pumpkin, or the favorite foods of the lost loved one. The bread is called, “pan de muerto” and they are purely for weary spirits. Sometimes a washbasin for the dead is provided so they are able to spruce up a bit. Toys, candies, and games are left for angelitos, child spirits. Placing calaveritas or sugar skulls is also a custom in the urban areas. They symbolize death and rebirth.

  Mexican cempasúchil, known as marigold, is the traditional flower used to honor the dead. It gives off the same warm sensation as the sun, and it is given the meaning of hope. Prior to the holiday, a vigil with foods, music, and drinks is prepared.

   The Day of the Dead is a joyous holiday, far from the ghoulish concept with people often having brightly decorated skull makeup. Flower crowns are also a popular accessory and they usually tie the look all together. Dancing is also involved during midnight, they light candles and ride winged boats.   

 “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living” are words to live by during the festival such as this. It is a way where people can gather around and be close with one another. It is definitely one of the refining parts of Mexico’s culture and it remains so.

  These bright aspects of the holiday is to celebrate their existence and memory rather than mourning it in pain. So happily festive one could die for such a fun time.

Caption: An example of a decorated skull in celebration of The Day of the Dead.

Art by: Chriselis Flete, Photo taken by: Mrs. Erdman

Mrs. Erdman is an English and journalism teacher at Freedom High School in the Bethlehem Area School District in Bethlehem, PA.

Please feel free to visit her sites: Mrs. Erdman     The Freedom Forum

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