The Day of The Dead


Shasta Orozco, Writer

This holiday isn’t exactly common and on most people’s calendars. This holiday is known as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This holiday is celebrated on October 31 through November 2. Not many people understand the meaning about this holiday. This holiday is so interesting because of the taste of food and music and culture. This holiday is mostly celebrated by Mexicans or people who strongly feel like they have to honor the dead.
The day of the dead is celebrated by setting up a alter with flowers, candles; pan de Muertos, ceramic skulls and most importantly pictures of your loved ones. You can also place food of your favorite loved ones and treats by their alter. Marigolds or flowers in general, also represent the fragility of life. The marigold most commonly used in Dia de los Muertos celebrations is the Targets erecta, Mexican marigold or Aztec marigold, otherwise known as cempasuchitl or flower of the dead. Mexicans believe that this flower helps guide their loved one’s soul back to the world of the living, and given that it only flowers during the rainy season which precedes the Day of the Dead, it has now become heavily and primarily associated with the festivities.
Another big thing is candy skulls to have set up and decorate around the ofrenda. The term ‘sugar skull’ actually comes from Day of the Dead festivities and is perhaps the most globally emblematic symbol of both the festivities and Mexico in general. Sugar skulls are either bought or made by families to add to their altar, and the name of the deceased is often written in icing on the forehead. In addition to the traditional sugar versions, you can also get chocolate and biscuit ‘sugar skulls’ during this period.
Another common tradition during the Day of the Dead period is the consumption of the so-called pan-de Muertos. Thankfully, this is not bread made of dead people, no matter what the name might lead you to think. It’s actually lightly orange-flavored sweet bread, which has ‘bonelike’ decorations atop it and a healthy coating of sugar. This yeast sweet bread, traditionally prepared for the Mexican Day of the Dead, is usually designed to look like crossbones and skulls. It’s given as an offering to the dead when they come visit on Day of The Dead.
Even though not all families choose to honor their loved ones at the graveyard itself, the tradition of cleaning the grave is still respected by most. This task usually includes tidying the area surrounding the headstone, but being sure to leave behind the aforementioned cempasúchil flowers. A complete altar is often constructed there, too. Graveyards during the Day of the Dead celebrations, contrary to what you might expect, actually take on the atmosphere of surprisingly festive social gatherings. This holiday also brings everyone together for an amazing thing to celebrate and to also sow you lost loved ones that you still love and remember them.