By: Leslie Lopez Ibanez & Kayla Arellano
Día de los muertos is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated on November 1st and November 2nd. It originated in Mexico and Central America. This holiday is celebrated by many Mexicans to remember and honor their loved ones who have passed away.
On November 1st, we honor the children who have passed away and on November 2nd, we honor the adults. This holiday is a celebration of life, not death.
There are many traditions that Mexicans do when this time comes around in the year. One of them is putting up an altar and una ofrenda. An altar is a way where you honor your loved ones by setting up a table with some pictures of them, some of their belongings, and memorable objects.
Every ofrenda includes 4 elements which are: wind, water, earth and fire.
- Papel picado, or the traditional paper banners, represent the wind. Many beautiful and vibrant colors are used for this. You fold the paper, cut it up, then you open it and it creates a pattern so you can hang up around the altar.
- On the altar, they leave water so the spirits can drink it when they come and visit.
- Earth is represented by food. Some traditional food that is placed on the altar are pan de muerto, tamales, sugar skulls, champurrado, mole, and some people put the deceased’s favorite food.
- Fire is represented by candles. People set up their candles in the shape of a cross so the spirits can find their way to the altar.
Another way spirits find their way from the cemetery to their family’s homes is by making a path with a traditional flower that is called Cempasúchil flower, or in English, Mexican Marigold flower. It’s a very beautiful flower with a vibrant color.
Another tradition that is done in Mexico to celebrate your loved one is music and dancing. There is a traditional dance that is called “Danza de los Viejitos” (“Dance of Little Old Men”). This dance is danced by boys or young men dressed as old men with a cane who walk slowly then suddenly they jump up with a lot of energy and start dancing.