El Día De Los Muertos

Written by EJ Defensor

Last Friday, October 31, marked an important date in the Mexican community, the Day of the Dead. Known as Día de los Muertos in their native tongue, numerous Mexicans, set aside three days, starting on October 31, as time for honoring deceased loved ones. Falling alongside Christian holy days, the Day of the Dead celebration brings together the Latin American faiths of ancient beliefs and Christianity. Characterized with intricately decorated skulls, carefully decorated altars dedicated to the dead, and nights filled with candles dotting the streets like stars, the Day of the Dead celebration is truly one of the more prominent holidays.

The origins of the Day of the Dead celebration date back about 3000 years ago to when the Aztec empire held celebrations for their passed ancestors. Since then, the celebration moved from being held in the summer to the fall season to match the Christian holy day All Saints’ Day, as well as parallel All Souls Day. In fact, the Day of the Dead holiday is perceived as being a connection between the two major beliefs of Mexico today, ancient practices and Christianity.

During the celebrations, each family has their own special tradition they might do, such as building an altar or visiting cemeteries. The altars, called ofrendas, usually have items of importance placed on or around them, all with specific meaning. For example, the favorite food and drink of the honored person would be placed upon the altar so that the spirit of the dead person could dine on the pleasures from their past life. Also, flowers are used in the creation of the altar, not only as a gift, but as a specific scent for the dead. When families are not creating offerings, they would often visit the cemeteries where their loved ones lay to clean graves and be present with the dead. Finally, the iconic sugar skulls of the Day of the Dead celebration are frequently bought during this time. These elaborately designed skulls show respect for the dead and are given as gifts to the living and dead alike.

The tradition of the Day of the Dead celebration was continued even at PGHS through the Spanish Club. The day before the celebration started in the real world, Senora Johnson held in her room a party with plenty of food, including authentic pan de muerto, bread made specifically for the Day of the Dead celebration. Also, the party included some halloween themed games as well as good fellowship, one of the other reason for the Day of the Dead, bringing many people closer together.