Day of The Dead

Nathan Montoya, Sandscript Author

Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) is a holiday celebrated on November 1st and the 2nd. Originally, it came from and is observed mostly in Mexico, but is also celebrated in other places too, especially by people from Mexican heritage in other parts of the world. While it is associated with other Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, it is more of a joyful celebration, rather than one of mourning. The 2-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pay respects and remembering those who they’ve lost. These celebrations can be remembering the funny things they did, jokes they would say, and stories about the dead. 

Traditions connected with the holiday include honoring the deceased using calaveras, a representation of a human skull. Typically made of sugar, or clay, as well as using aztec marigold flowers, a species of flowers native to Mexico, building home altars called ofrendas with the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these items as gifts for the deceased. However, the entire celebration is not soley focused on the dead, as it is common to also give gifts to friends such as the calaveras, share traditional pan de muerto, a type of bread,  with family and friends, and write light-hearted mock epitaphs dedicated to living friends and acquaintances, known as calaveras literarias.