Dia de los Muertos translates to Day of the Dead, a holiday originally celebrated in Mexico. This holiday is now celebrated throughout many parts of Latin America every year from Nov. 1-2.
Despite what most people think, Dia de los Muertos isn’t just Mexican Halloween. The Day of the Dead is full of rich history and traditions that have origins similar to Halloween, but are still very different.
This holiday began as Aztec and Christian traditions blended in Mexico. The first two days of November are All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. People in Mexico began celebrating the souls of the dead during Dia de los Muertos. Traditions have developed over time on how exactly to properly honor the dead.
Family and friends clean and decorate grave stones for the special day. Dia de los Muertos is a day to honor the dead, and one traditional way to do so is by setting up ofrendas. These are altars set up to honor the souls of ancestors and others who have died. They typically contain food that the dead enjoyed in life and Pan de Muerto, a special bread prepared for this holiday. The altars are also decorated with flowers, including a path of “Flor de Muerto” petals leading up to it.
Calaveras and calacas are special decorations for Dia de los Muertos. Calavera means skull and calaca means skeleton. Intricately designed calaveras are very colorful and are either eaten or used for decoration. Calacas are skeletons dressed in colorful clothing made to appear happy and joyous. This tradition celebrates all souls’ happiness in life, as well as in death.
St. John’s Spanish Club celebrated Dia de los Muertos on Oct. 29 by decorating calavera cookies and creating ofrendas. A member of the Spanish club, Sara Miller ’19, said she likes the celebration of Dia de los Muertos because it “shows how Latin American cultures celebrate holidays differently” and it is a great way to “celebrate the similarities and differences between cultures.”