Día de Muertos: A Celebration of Life

Here is a brief rundown on the famous Mexican tradition along with 5 Traditions you might spot during this 3 day holiday celebration

Día de Muertos is a beautiful holiday filled with traditions that date back to the early 1500s and the pre-Columbian cultures. The multi-day celebration is for family and friends to get together no in sorry but in celebration and happiness, remembering their loved ones.

In Mexican tradition, death isn’t something feared or avoided but viewed as part of the human cycle and during this time the border between the real world and the spiritual world gives way so spirits can be with their family and friends for one night. One way of creating an atmosphere of bringing back the spirits is with offerings or “ofrendas.”

These ofrendas are placed on altars as gifts for the deceased and can consist of a wide array of objects from photos and family memorabilia to food and drinks including you guessed it, tequila.

Here is a list of 5 common items you’ll find on an ofrenda:

Beverages:

Typically, the dearly departed’s favorite drinks will be left as an offering by family and friends. It could be anything from soda to coffee to even Tequila! While it’s common to leave a pour of their favorite tequila on the altar you can also enjoy it in their memory.

Food:

During the Día de Muertos celebrations, food is both prepared and brought for all visitors lining and in spirit. Some of the popular foods are bread of the dead or pan de muerto. It’s usually shaped into a skeleton or bones and only made during this time of year. Other dishes can include family favorites like mole, tamales, beans and rice, dried fruits or hot chocolate.

Día de Muertos: A Celebration of Life

Papel Picado

Papel picado is an essential part of the altar, it’s a decorative banner created from thin tissue-paper often cut with unique patterns. Since papel picado is so thin, it moves with even the slightest gust of air and tends to only last the length of the ceremony. This is symbolic of the cycle of life, how eventually all things disintegrate, no matter how beautiful.

Cempasúchil

Also known as the marigold derived from Aztecan culture where it was used for ceremonial, medicinal, and decorative purposes. Cempaspuchitl or Tagetes erecta is used to help attract souls back on Día de Muertos. The flowers are representative of life in general, since all flowers eventually lose their petals and die. Flowers are a symbol of the impermanence and fragility of life and have many uses in Day of the Dead celebrations.These flowers are also often referred to in Mexico as flor de muerto, which means flower of the dead, because they figure prominently in Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations. They bloom at the end of rainy season in Mexico, just in time for the holiday during which they play such a vital part. Their vibrant color is said to represent the sun, which in Aztec mythology guides the spirits on their way to the underworld. Some claim the aroma and color alone are strong enough to help bring spirits back to the family’s home.

Día de Muertos: A Celebration of Life

Calaveras

Perhaps one of the most symbolic images of Día de Muertos are the colorful Calaveras, or skulls, made from clay, paper, or sugar. One of the most iconic calaveras is La Catrina, a female skeleton dressed in a fancy hat, mocking those who were denying their Mexican heritage by adopting European fashion. Originally a print by José Posada, it’s a reminder that whether you’re upper class or lower class, everyone in the end is equal.

And now you know some of the history and traditions of Día de Muertos, you can celebrate by sipping some Chula Parranda Tequila.

Día de Muertos: A Celebration of Life