Day of the Dead 2021: When is it, What does Dia de los Muertos mean, Where is it celebrated, Is it a Catholic holiday, How is it celebrated and Where did it originate?

IT is almost time for the Day of the Dead.

Monday, 1st November 2021, 1:43 pm

This holiday combines lively festivals with memorials for lost loved ones.

Vibrant parties and family gatherings take place across Mexico, and other countries in Central and South America, to commemorate the lives of family members who are no longer with them.

If you’re wondering why people partake in the Day of the Dead festivities, here is all you need to know.

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Art on display during the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in Los Angeles on October 26, 2019. Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images.

What is the Day of the Dead?

The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a celebration of the souls of the dead returning to the land of the living.

Lively celebrations for the deceased involving food, drink and parties aim to recreate the things they enjoyed in life.

People also reconnect with lost family members and friends through personal memorials.

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When is it celebrated?

The Day of the Dead is tomorrow, where deceased adults are honoured, but the holiday is spread out.

Typically, celebrations start on October 28 and last until November 2.

Certain types of death are remembered on different days.

Today is Dia de los Inocentes, where the lives of children who have passed away are remembered by decorating graves with white orchids.

Where is Dia de los Muertos celebrated?

It is regarded as one of the most meaningful holidays in Mexico – but is also celebrated in other

Areas with large Latin American populations such as California, USA, also take part and other Catholic countries including Brazil hold in similar memorials.

Is it a Catholic holiday?

Dia de los Muertos combines Catholic holidays with indigenous Aztec rituals.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, local festivals were combined with the Catholic calendar.

All Souls’ Day, where Catholics pray and memorialise the deceased, coincides with the Day of the Dead.

Festivals also take place on All Saint’s Day.

Where did Dia de los Muertos originate from and when was the holiday created?

The holiday emerged from Aztec traditions dating back thousands of years, before the European settlers arrived.

Their empire’s influence would eventually stretch throughout Central America and modern-day Mexico.

Aztec society revolved around its calendar and death wasn’t considered permanent.

Souls of the dead could visit the living, and on the Day of the Dead, people invited the deceased back into society and celebrated their return.

How is Dia de los Muertos celebrated?

Even though festivities vary on location, some aspects of the holiday are universal.

Family members clean and decorate the graves of their loved ones, and the dead are honoured with Ofrendas – personal alters memorialising a single person.

These altars are decorated personal photos, flowers, candles, belongings and their favourite food and drink, as well as symbols of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

Popular food placed on Ofrendas include chocolate or candied skulls and pan de muerto, a traditional Mexican pastry.

Marigolds often decorate these altars, as the yellow petals symbolise the sun and guide souls back to their former homes.

As well as sombre remembrances, large scale parades and street fairs also take place in many cities across Mexico and the USA.

People dress up as skeletons and fully ingratiate themselves in the party atmosphere.

One of the largest celebrations took place in Mexico City in 2019.

Why is Dia de los Muertos important?

The holiday is culturally significant because it’s used by people to reconnect with their loved ones while confronting grief.

Instead of shying away from death, the subject is recognised as a part of life and used to appreciate the lives of those who have passed on.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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