Día de los Muertos: It’s more than just a parade of colorful skeletons.
The authentic celebration of Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is recognized by the Catholic Church as the universal feast of All Souls’ Day on November 2. And unlike the now-secular holiday Halloween — a dark night of tricks and treats — the Day of the Dead is a colorful and joyous (if bittersweet) celebration, dedicated to remembering the lives of the departed and offering prayers for those in Purgatory.
(Of course, secular Halloween is also deeply rooted in Catholicism, as it is actually the Eve of All Hallow’s Day, or All Saints’ Day on November 1.)
Here are some photos that really capture the feel of the celebration:
The Day of the Dead calls upon the Catholic understanding of death as having been vanquished by Christ, and through his conquest, the door to eternal life. Thus, it is a reminder that all of life on earth is really a preparation for death, and that in death, we will be reunited with all those who have gone on before us to eternal life.
All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead are a multi-day holiday event in Mexico and a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate the lives of the deceased. Private home altars (ofrendas) are constructed to display photos of departed loved ones, sugar skulls (calaveras), and vibrant flowers. Families will also visit cemeteries and bring food and drink offerings that the deceased would have enjoyed while they were alive. Everyone will enjoy pan de muerto (bread of the dead). And for the finale, tens of thousands participate in lively street processions (desfiles) featuring music and dancing, magnificent costumes, and, of course, the iconic Calaveras Catrinas (elegantly dressed skeleton ladies, based on a 1910 engraving by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada).
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