Writers' Retreat

The Day of the Dead: A True Celebration of Life

“Let’s put on some costumes, paint our faces like skeletons and dance with caricatures of death while we feast on skull sugar molds because it’s time to celebrate the dead”

Well, regardless of how scary or creepy that sentence might sound, this is what happens on the “Day of the Dead”.

The “Day of the Dead” popularly known as Día de los Muertos in Spanish is a lively traditional holiday in Mexico celebrated on November 1st by families to honour their dead ancestors. People believed that if they mourned the loss of their loved ones, the dead would be insulted. Hence, they started remembering them by celebrating with parties, food, drinks and other activities the deceased enjoyed when they were alive. People perceive this day as awakening the dead from their eternal sleep to celebrate with their family; this is the time when the 2 worlds – living and the dead are blurred.

Remembering the Ancestors

The celebrations for Día de los Muertos begin on the 28th of October itself with each day dedicated to a different kind of death: 

28th of October is dedicated to receiving souls who died suddenly or due to an accident

29th of October is dedicated to those souls who drowned

30th October honours souls who have been forgotten 

31st October for souls stuck in limbo (A state which is neither hell nor heaven)

1st November is dedicated to children and souls that led a pure life

2nd November for adult souls

This holiday has its origins in Aztec traditions. While it’s popularly recognised as a festival celebrated in Mexico, it is celebrated throughout Latin America: Los Angeles, British Columbia, California, Vancouver, and Canada – wherever the Latino population exists.  

La Ofrenda: Where Treats are Offered to the Spirits of the Dead

La Ofrenda is nothing but an altar with offerings for the dead. These altars are brightly decorated with Lit candles: to help the spirits find their way back home, Marigold flowers: Because the spirits love the scent of marigold. The photos of the deceased along with their belongings like jewellery, books and musical instruments are also placed at the altar. It even offers food and beverages like mole tamales, pan de muerto (pastry), sugar skulls, atole (drink), fruits and other favourite dishes of the deceased just in case the spirits get hungry during their visit.

In various other parts of Mexico, families open the doors of their homes to showcase their altar to guests; after which they treat them to some pan de muerto (pastry) and hot chocolate. 

The Day of the Dead

Activities During the Celebration

On the 2nd of November, many families visit the cemeteries to clean and decorate their dead relative’s tombstone with flowers and candles. They sing songs, tell stories, talk to their ancestors and carry a feast to relish with them. 

If at all you happened to visit Mexico during this festival you would find life-sized paper mache skeletons hung everywhere. They even put out miniature skeletons made of plastic and clay. This is done to help people remind themselves that death is just another part of life and that – they too will be skeletons one day. These skeletons are painted very colourfully and presented in various whimsical and wacky ways like playing the guitar, brushing their teeth, dancing with the bride and posing with a Chinese hand fan. It all looks as if even the skeletons are having the time of their lives. 


Content writer🖋️by profession, a passionate singer🎙️ and an avid reader📔 with an interest in psychological thrillers.

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