Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday that combines indigenous Aztec ritual with Catholicism. It is celebrated in central Mexico, southern Mexico, Latin America, and coincides with the Catholic holiday, “All Souls’ and All Saints’ Day,” which is celebrated in Italy, Spain, South America, and the Philippines. The indigenous people have incorporated this into their beliefs honoring both death and the cycle of life. The holiday recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience and, on this day, the dead are awakened from eternal sleep to partake in celebrations with their loved ones.
Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, festivities, and activities the deceased enjoyed in life. It is only in the central and southern regions of Mexico that colorful and lively celebrations take place in the cemetery and elaborate ofrenda (offering) altars or small shrines are created in homes to honor family members who have departed.
The altars and shrines feature foods, such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto (the bread of the dead), sugar skulls, a beverage called atole; a Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, photos of deceased loved ones, candles, favorite foods, and memorabilia of the departed. The ofrendas are left as a means of welcoming the deceased. Some families spend time around the altar, praying and telling stories of the deceased as a way to also encourage visits by the souls. It is believed that the spirits of the dead eat the “spiritual essence” of the ofrendas food. After the celebration, the celebrants eat the food even though they feel it lacks nutritional value. Also, pillows and blankets are left to give the deceased rest after their long journey.
On October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the spirits of deceased children (angelitos) to return for a visit. Toys and candies are brought for the deceased children. November 1st marks All Saints’ Day where the adult spirits come for a visit. November 2nd is All Souls’ Day in which families visit the cemetery to clean and decorate the tombs and graves of their relatives.
The three-day celebration is filled with orange Mexican marigolds (the flowers of the dead that some say represent the rays of the sun), pan de muerto (the bread of the dead, which is a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, usually decorated with white frosting to give it a twisted bone effect), colorful sugar skulls, cardboard skeletons, colorful tissue paper decorations, fruit and nuts, incense, along with other traditional foods and decorations.
A familiar symbol of el Dia de los Muertos is the calacas or calaveras (skeletons and skulls). The skull symbolizes death and/or rebirth and appears everywhere in candied treats (sugar or chocolate skulls), as parade masks, and dolls. The calacas or calaveras are usually portrayed as enjoying life and are garbed in fancy clothes.
With the growing Latin American population in the U.S., this holiday is crossing over into mainstream U.S. culture featuring celebrations, parades, exhibitions, educational projects, and art classes. As a result, there is a demand for el Dia de los Muertos decorations.
Dia de los Muertos Decorations are a wonderful way to pay homage to the departed and includes the following decorations and accessories:
- Day of the Dead Banner
- Day of the Dead Dancing Senorita
- Day of the Dead Door Cover Accessory
- Day of the Dead Hanging Wall Skull with LED Eyes
- Day of the Dead Mariachi
- Day of the Dead Skeleton Skull – Frida Painting Artist
- Day of the Dead Sugar Skull
- Day of the Dead Tapestry
- Day of the Dead Wedding Couple
- Day of the Dead Whirls
- Fiesta Banner
- LED Dead Lantern Set
- Skull Linen Cushion Cover
- Sugar Skull Wreath