Dia de Los Muertos (also Dia de Muertos) is a Mexican national holiday that honors the dead, a fête that began with the indigenous peoples, coinciding with the Catholic All Soul’s & All Saint’s Days, and that has grown to be commemorated in nearly all other Latin American countries. It is more commonly celebrated with parties in the cemeteries, food, drink, and offerings to the dead in Central & Southern Mexico, whilst the North is far more sedate and European (i.e. Spain, Italy) with Mass services and the ritual cleaning of the graves of departed family members.
Actually, the festivities should rightly be called Dias de Los Muertos as 1 November is Dia de Los Inocentes is for the children who have passed on, and 2 November is Dia de Los Muertos, which is when deceased adults are honored. The family of my brother’s ex wife, who comes from Puebla in Mexico, are honoring their late relatives, including her father, during this special time. I am sure this will be an emotional journey for her widowed mother, who has been living with her youngest son on the family farm the past decade or so. At least she has some of her other children residing close by.
An example of a Day of The Dead altar
The most recognized symbol of the celebration are the skeletons and skulls that one sees everywhere. I have always been fascinated by the sugar skulls and may buy my own today, as there is a rather large Hispanic population in my hometown. I’m certain I can find a sugar skull somewhere as I have been seeing papier-mâché and other decorations for the holiday all over the place.
Always into the outre, the bizarre, the strange, and the unknown, when I first heard of this holiday I simply brushed it away as another ‘weird Catholic thing’ and thought no more about it until American became pretty much overrun by immigrants from South of the Border.
I find Dias de Los Muertos far more interesting than Latin food even – the same as with Voodoo and Santeria and Druidism. I think it is very sad but sweet to honor dead children – how many Western women think of their dead little ones, especially those they never allowed to live in the first place by having an abortion?
The angelitos, as the deceased babies and toddlers and other young are called, are left candies and toys to play with during their brief time visiting with the living here on earth, and the adults are given liquor and cigarettes, along with candles, the sugar skulls and odd little skeletons, soda, dishes of mole, and a large bread baked expressly for this time of year called pan de muerto.
While most non-Catholic Christians will look upon most celebrations by the pope-led sect as ‘pagan’ and ‘un-Christian’ and ‘idolatrous’, no doubt they will regard Dia de Muertos as ‘backward’ and possibly even ‘demonic’ (having belonged to a Holy Rolling church that believed this way, it’s safe for me to conclude that a lot of Christians are more accepting of homosexuality now than they are such ‘devilish’ days as Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos). Other peoples’ ignorance won’t prevent me from going to a local cemetery and perhaps even honoring my own dead relatives with sugar skulls.