The history of El Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) happens to go back as far as the Spanish Conquest. The festival is celebrated all across Latin America on November 2nd. This festival includes a mix of indigenous Latin and Christian beliefs.
The history and meaning of Dia de Los Muetros combine both Catholic and indigenous traditions. Once the Spanish arrived in Mexico they discovered some Aztec tradition that was thousands of years old. They involved the use of skulls to honor the dead. Now, of course, Mexico skulls have an importance to the celebration—still to this day. Other Latin Countries don’t all use Mexican skulls, but instead, they build altars of graves of loved ones. This is where they leave offerings.
Most Catholic countries across the world, the day of the dead has been the day to visit the graves of the family members and they can leave candles or flowers. To keep the indigenous tradition to maintain the connection with the living and the dead family members. For Day of the Dead, it isn’t a sad occasion, but more of a joyful family get together. The indigenous people celebrate the day by holding a festival in local graveyards, with music and ice cream.
HOW THE DAY OF THE DEAD IS CELEBRATED IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF LATIN AMERICA!
- Mexico: In Mexico, they have the biggest and flamboyant Day of the Dead traditions. These traditions include wearing skull masks, painting the face to look like a skull. Most people are known to make sugar skulls.
- Brazil: They Celebrate finados on November 2nd. They pray for loved ones who have died. Like Other Latin American countries, the day is nothing but this day they celebrate it with nothing but positivity and express their love for people that have passed on. People visit the graves of relatives with flowers and candles.
- Peru/Ecuador: In Peru and Ecuador The Day of the Dead is especially important to the Quichua people, who are descendants of the Incas. People visit graves of relatives and create altars of offerings at the graves, with flowers and candles. People celebrate in the street, also in the cemetery itself. Traditional food is cuy (roast guinea pig) flat cakes are shaped like gingerbread men and most drink chicha, its local homemade beer.
- Haiti: In Haiti, people go to the cemeteries, there as well leave candles and flowers for the dead. They also pray to Baron Samedi, who is the guardian spirit of the dead to help them have luck in the future. In Haiti, the day of the dead is only two days, as celebrations last longer that other Latin American countries.
Ideas for Celebrating Day of the Dead
- Make an altar to remember a loved one. You can put pictures, flowers and some of their favorite meals. You can also put special objects on the altar that remind you of your loved one.
- Visit a graveside for any of your relatives that have died. There you can take flowers, clean up the gravesite and of course remember your loved one. Place pictures and decorate it a little bit as well.
- Make skull masks at your school or at home. Here you can talk to your friends and family all about the traditions of Día de Los Muertos
Check out the link below so you can print and color your own skull mask:
Make your own sugar skulls. Now I have never tried to make any sugar skulls myself, but there is a recipe I found
While doing these fun arts and crafts you should also try doing some face painting. The face painting. Here is a link to the article all about the information of the dead face painting. Meaning of Dia de los Muertos face painting.