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Dias de Los Muertos: Reflection on this Sacred Two-Day Holiday

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GCU chapter.

Happy fall everyone! We are now entering the never-ending smell of pumpkin spice, leaves falling, being cozy in your bed, right about to ram into the season of cuddling with your significant other. On that side note, don’t ever feel pressured to participate in cuddle season. If you are single right now embrace it because that means all your attention is on you and you get to treat yourself to whatever you want to do. but let us reflect on what happened from October 31st through the 2nd of November. Few know of this tradition but when someone asks you about the movie Coco, it will be going right into the topic we are about to discuss now. Throughout Latin cultures, there is a tradition called Day of the Dead or in Spanish Dias de Los Muertos. It is a known tradition where people of Mexico dress up as skeletons in brightly colored clothing and build alters or ofrendas to honor their family that passed away. After the Disney movie Coco came out in 2017, there was a shock to many who did not know the cultural background of this infamous holiday.

To start with the origin of why this tradition is sacred to Mexico, we must go back to why this tradition is so important. There are many families that do not know where they came from whether they did not know of indigenous background or genocide. Day of the Dead has always been a part of Mexican origins to honor those who have moved to the afterlife. We honor the family members with pictures to show that they are still alive, figuratively. We offer food and drinks that remind us of them and give spirits food and drink back to the spirit world. We put gifts out to say you still live in our hearts and this is what reminds us of who we are. On some occasions, Day of the Dead can be used inappropriately such as costumes used for profit and using makeup as an excuse to “try something new.” Mocking a holiday that is important to a culture is the same as making fun of someone’s name which everyone in the 21st century should know is not OK. But for those who want to learn, they educate themselves and find that dressing up as a skeleton is more than just a costume and makeup. 

Dressing up as a skeleton and doing a colorful skull is for family members that have passed to identify you if you have the same makeup look it makes no difference because your family will know who you are. Men, women, and children participate in these looks but on two separate days. Halloween on October 31st is a preparation day to get the gifts, to set up the altar, and to prepare the pictures of those who would want to be remembered. November 1st is the day of saints or Día de todos los santos. It is to honor children and babies who were not able to live their full lives. In this case, a pacifier, their favorite baby food, or even a toy could be put on the altar along with their picture. This day takes a toll on a family’s life because they remember their children of how they used to be happy and how peaceful they would look while napping. Day of the Saints is extremely sacred And is honored with dignity because children and even babies fight hard for their lives and they all are Saints. Now the main event on November 2nd is the real Day of the Dead that honors adults that passed away. 

Day of the Dead honors adults that have moved on to the spirit world. For those who fought hard for their lives or went peacefully, we celebrate with makeup, their favorite food, fancy clothing if you are feeling up to it, music, and much more. Like the previous statement says, these holidays were not meant to be mocked, to try something new, or to feel oppressed. These traditions are sacred to the Mexican culture. It is beautiful, vibrant, moving, emotional, and any other emotion that you could associate with being in shock. Look at these examples and these dates as to future references of honoring another culture. With that, let us have an amazing fall season and keep it at an all-time high at GCU! Lopes Up! 

I'm a writer and hopefully will work my way to become a future editor for the Her Campus Club and take this experience beyond the college journey. I am a lover of literature, preferably poetry, and Shakespeare play writes.