Halloween is fast approaching, and for some cultures, there is much more to Halloween than just tricks and treats. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated throughout Mexico. Day of the Dead combines the ancient Aztec custom of celebrating ancestors with All Souls’ Day, a holiday that Spanish invaders brought to Mexico starting in the early 1500’s. This multi-day holiday focuses on gathering family and friends to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed away.
I enjoyed reading the following quote by Frances Ann Day from Latina and Latino Voices in Literature. “On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.”
People build altars in their homes containing the deceased’s favorite foods, beverages, photos, and memorabilia. They also travel to cemeteries to visit the deceased, clean tombstones, and talk about their ancestors. The intent is to encourage a visit from beyond the grave.
And don’t forget the skeletons! National Geographic Kids informs us that “During Day of the Dead, life-size papier-mâché skeletons and miniature plastic or clay skeletons are a common occurrence. Mexicans honor their ancestors on Day of the Dead, but they’re also reminding themselves that death is just a part of life. Hanging out with skeletons reminds people that one day they will be skeletons—but not for a very long time!”
Serenity Funeral Home is located just off Riverside Drive at 1316 S. 400 E., St. George, UT, (435) 986-2085, www.SerenityStG.com.
Submitted by W. Russell Atkin, Licensed Funeral Director/Owner