Many people are aware of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated in Mexico however, an interesting fact that I did not realize was that this was a ritual practiced by the indigenous people prior to the arrival of the Conquistadors.   Day of the DeadAs with most pagan rituals the Catholic Spaniards tried to eliminate this annual ritual deeming it sacrilegious.  However, as with most pagan customs their battle was futile and instead it was merged with the Christian celebration “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day”, taking place on November 1 and 2nd.    What began as an Aztec month long celebration now spans a two-day period.  The first day is to honor the children who have predeceased us and the second day is to honor all people who have died.

Instead of a grim affair, these celebrations are a way to honor the life of the loved ones who have departed.  They take on different flavors depending on which part of the country you live in and rural and urban areas  offer variations on the event as well.

Many traditionalists still visit the cemetery where family members are buried and spend the day sharing in foods the departed loved and taking gifts they might have enjoyed.  Others may have a family gathering in their homes and pay homage to photos of the loved ones in altars, which are a common area of many Mexican homes.  For those in the United States it might be somewhat similar to Memorial Day where we honor loved ones lost to war.  When I was a child I remember that we visited my brother’s grave during this holiday and he was just a young child when he died.  Memorial Day was a holiday where we honored all loved ones.

No matter where you live it is a beautiful tradition  to honor and remember those who have departed before us and to remember the impact they made upon our lives.   In Mexico this tradition is celebrated with all of the theatrics that we have to come to expect of such a warm, loving, and colorful culture.  Que Dios Bendiga a estas Almas.  Bless you all departed souls.