Outside Scoop: Dia de los Muertos
Here in America, Halloween is a spooky and scary festival. In other parts of the world, there are also skeletons and skulls, but they are used in a very different type of celebration. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a fiercely celebrated and extremely colorful festival in Mexico and throughout Latin America, where the tradition of this holiday began.
The vivid and intricate celebration of Día de los Muertos falls on Nov. 1 and 2 annually and honors those who are dead. However, this is done in a fun, lively and happy manner without sadness or mourning, as the dead would have been insulted in this culture. To honor those that have passed, there are incredible parties, parades, festivals and, most importantly, traditional alters combined with homemade food, beverages and decorations dedicated to the dead.
The food prepared would be that of the person who is being honored and could include baked goods, casseroles and tamales. These customs are blended from indigenous Aztec rituals that were mixed with Catholicism that was brought to the area by Spanish conquistadores. In these roots are special foods such as Pan del Muertos, a type of sweet roll shaped like a bun and then sprinkled with sugar, and calaveras, sugar skulls, which are extremely challenging to create, but can be of varying colors and patterns to represent vitality.
Marigolds can be found throughout Mexican towns and on alters, as this yellow bloom is the traditional flower used to honor the dead and put on alters. Face-painting, especially for younger children, is a popular decorative expression. There are photos of the deceased surrounding intricate altars dedicated to the person being honored. In many towns throughout the southern states of Mexico, there are annual contests for the best alters.
Is it a coincidence that All Saints Day is Nov. 1 each year and All Souls Day is Nov. 2 each year?