DAY of the Dead is traditionally celebrated on November 2 every year, but why? Here are Eight facts you may not know about Dia de los Muertos.
Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a three-day Mexican holiday, lasting from October 31 to November 2 every year.
While it has its roots in Mexico, the celebration has gained popularity in many counties because of its distinct art and humour.
You may recognise the spooky face painting, skull designs and skeletons in hats from the celebration.
But, the Day of the Dead isn’t just Mexico’s version of Halloween.
Why is Day of the Dead celebrated?
Day of the Dead is a celebration held in honour of the deceased and to welcome spirits home.
People remember their loved ones and spirits in a joyous celebration of life and death.
They do this by creating altars, tending grave sites and taking part in festivals and parades.
The tradition goes back to the Aztec, Toltec and other indigenous tribes.
They considered it disrespectful to mourn the dead, as they saw death as part of life’s rich tapestry.
Here are some more facts you may not know about the Day of the Dead:
1. It’s not celebrated on the same day as Halloween
Although the whole celebration is sometimes referred to as Day of the Dead, it is traditionally celebrated on November 2.
However, the multi-day sequence of festivities usually begins on the evening of October 31.
2. The colours used on skulls have specific meanings
The colourful skulls used in the celebration are not just to look pretty – the specific colours are chosen for their meaning.
Yellow represents the sun and unity, because under the sun we are all the same.
White means the spirit and purity.
Red is a symbol of life, or more specifically blood which fuels life.
Purple represents the mourning felt by the ones left behind when someone dies.
Last, pink is a symbol of happiness.
3. November 1 is dedicated to remembering dead children
While November 2 is a day to honour the spirits of dead adults, the day before is for remembering deceased children.
The day is called El Dia de los Inocentes, or the Day of the Innocents.
4. Cleaning is a major part of the holiday
One of the ways people pay respect to the day is by cleaning graves.
This is also done as part of the ritual to prepare for the spirits will inevitably come.
Also, Mexico’s cemeteries are not privately owned, and need to be maintained by the public.
5. Flowers are part of the celebration for a spooky reason
The official flowers of the Day of the Dead, Cempazuchitl, are used to decorate graves and altars.
These are nicknamed el flor del puerto, or the flower of the dead, and are thought to attract ghosts.
They are believed to help guide spirits back home.
6. The day is bigger than Christmas
Day of the Day is Mexico’s biggest religious holiday, even bigger than Christmas.
There are massive public events with parades and gatherings across the country.
Some people spend huge amounts of money on decorations and food.
7. Altars are built to welcome spirits home
One of the main components of the holiday is to produce “offerings” for the dead.
These area symbol of paying tribute to the dead.
Each family will bring together offerings and place them in their home and cemeteries.
These are loaded with things such as water, food, music, marigolds, candles, pictures, salt or incense.
8. Monarch butterflies are the spirits of the dead
During the week of November 2 parts of Mexico are swarmed with monarch butterflies.
These travel 3,000 miles from Canada, and the believe is that they are the spirits of the ancestors coming home.