Why do Mexicans celebrate El dia de los Muertos and how is it different than Halloween? By Anna baker

Day of the dead, or "El dia de los Muertos" is celebrated in Mexico, some other Spanish-speaking countries, and by Americans of Mexican descent.

El dia de los Muertos dates back 2,500 to 3,000 years ago when the original Mexican people would commemorate the deaths of their ancestors. Ancient celebrations could last an entire month, but the modern-day celebration occurs over a 3-day period with the main being November 2nd.

Ancient Aztecs used to celebrate the "Lady of the Dead". She was the Queen of the underworld also known as Mictalan. She ruled the area with her husband. One of her jobs was to take care of the bones of dead people.

This holiday is a way for people to communicate with their dead ancestors.

Many Mexicans visit grave sights and they decorate alters with their favorite foods, flowers, photos, and beverages.

A favorite food that Mexicans leave on the alter is called "pan de muerto" or bread of the dead. This is a sweet round bread, with strips of dough baked on top of it which represent bones of the dead. It is sometimes shaped as skulls. The importance of this is it is being left for nourishment for dead spirits.

They go to the grave sites, with intentions of honoring the dead and sometimes they visit, talk to the dead, or clean the grave sites . They might also share stories or try to communicate with the deceased.

El dia de los Muertos is very similar to Halloween because they both are related to the remembrance of the dead and the afterlife. They also both use symbols to represent the dead.

So, should you wear a Day of the Dead costume for halloween? Absolutely not!

Day of the Dead "looks" may seem like halloween costumes, but they are not. Participants are remembering their own deceased loved ones.

Another similarity between the two holidays is how they bring fun and humor into the holiday. Even though the holidays contain scary images and center around fear, they are all meant in a fun way.

These holidays teach us that Mexican and American culture both have the capacity to see the humor and have fun with the most serious of topics.

This is great!

It shows that we can deal with a topic as difficult as death while still respecting the magnitude of it. Mexicans believe that the best way to commemorate the dead is by bringing out all the things this person enjoyed while they were still alive.

Conclusion

El dia de los Muertos teaches that we do not have to be afraid of death. Rather, it is a natural part of life. This is a great thing for a tradition to teach. Any culture would be greatly enriched by allowing its people to see that any issue--even one as serious as death--can teach important lessons about life.

Credits:

Created with images by darvinsantos - "day of the dead mexico skull" • FilipDukanic - "graves american cemetery" • aitoff - "tunnel steps dark" • vintage_queen - "bones 005" • WeAppU - "skull and crossbones skull bone church" • pellesten - "Day of the Dead at Burkes museum" • El Gran Dee - "Pan De Muerto." • pearlbear - "Dia de los muertos altar 2" • N@ncyN@nce - "happy halloween grin" • diveofficer - "Dia de los Muertos - 014:365" • barefootmuse18 - "Frida el dia de los muertos con pintura" • AdinaVoicu - "horror halloween girl" • Will Folsom - "Wall-E and Eve" • Machisono - "skeletons haloween music" • uteart - "~Altar de Muertos~"

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