Today is the first day of a beautiful 2 day holiday/festival – Dia de los Muertos, which translates to Day of the Dead. Unfortunately, many have reduced the holiday to colorful facepaint and costumes – but it is much more than that. So if you’re interested in learning a little bit more, keep reading!
Day of the Dead starts on Nov. 1st and 12 am – at this time the gates of heaven open and the spirits of all the little kids, infants and babies come down to reunite with their families. This first day is called Dia de los Angelitos – Day of the little Angels. On Nov. 2nd the spirits of the adults come down and join the party!
Down here family and friends build beautiful altars to welcome the spirits of the dead. They fill them with their favorite foods, drinks, candies and other things. Here is a list of the altar essentials:
- Pictures of the honored guests – the departed
- Cempazúchil flowers – with their bright colors and intoxicating smell these flowers guide the spirits to the altars
- Salt – to purify
- Papel picado- tissue paper cut in designs like skulls and skeletons to decorate
- Representation of Elements – fire (candles), papel picado (wind), fruits (earth) and water
- Skulls – Usually made of sugar, these represent what happens to all of us when our lives end
- Pan de Muerto
- Food and drink – Favorite foods of the deceased
- Religious figures – Crosses, saints, virgins
- Favorite objects of the deceased
- Dog skeletons – to show companionship (can be any pet really)
These are things that my family does, it may vary by family or region, but you get the idea. Here is a picture of the one we put up for my uncle and great grandparents – it’s small but we put it up with lot’s of love.
If you have any of your won please share!