Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican holiday, also known as Dia de los Muertos, celebrated on November 2nd. The legend states that on this day the souls of the dead return to visit their living loved ones. People often go to the cemetery to bring the deceased their favorite foods and drinks, and place photos with them.
Rituals in Mexico related to death and ancestors have been practiced for centuries. Originally, Day of the Dead was celebrated on the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, and the festivities were observed throughout the month. By the 20th century, the holiday had been shortened to a 3-day period, beginning with Halloween and ending with the Day of the Dead.
The most iconic figure of the holiday is La Catrina, a female skeleton with bright makeup and a big feathered hat. She was worshiped by the Aztecs and was believed to protect the dead.
- La Catrina was created at the beginning of the 20th century by cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada.
- Diego Rivera, husband of Frida Kahlo, depicted La Catrina on one of his frescoes, “Sunday Dreams in Alameda Park”.
- Mexicans start preparing for Day of the Dead early in the year.
- Gifts are traditionally prepared for the dead, such as toys for children and alcohol for adults.
- Marigolds are placed on graves, as they are believed to attract the souls of the dead.
How to take part
Take the time to remember loved ones who have passed away. Set up a special corner in the house with a candle, a photo and flowers. Visit the cemetery and take in the special sounds, aromas, symbols and images. You can also host an event at home, by inviting guests with photos of their deceased relatives. Place all of the photos on the table, and offer a treat. It is important to keep the event positive and cheerful, so that the dead don’t get upset from seeing your tears.
When is Day of the Dead celebrated in 2023?
Day of the Dead is observed on November 2 each year.