The Day of the Dead is a celebration of life. It’s a day for families and friends to gather together and honor those who have shared the path of life and who have gone on before them. For some, it’s a chance to reminisce and tell stories, sometimes with a sense of humor and sometimes with a tear for someone special.
This holiday, celebrated on November 1st is observed the most in Latin and Central American countries, but is also experienced in parts of the United States and Europe as well. It is lovingly celebrated in Mexico where scholars trace its origins back to Aztec festivals. Similar to its Catholic counterpart “All Souls’ Day,” it gives the living another chance to share their love for those who have passed on. In Mexico, private altars are built so that prayers can be said for the good of the deceased. Favorite foods and beverages are also shared and gifts of marigolds and sugar skulls are left at the graveside. Sugar skullsmay be given to members of the family or offered to the dead out of respect. This gesture is an effort to share sweetness and the light of life.
In some communities, parades and dancing and colorful costumes are part of the celebration. Candles burn brightly and skull-shaped masks are worn. Cemeteries are full of well-wishers and people praying for those in eternal rest. In other communities, a tradition, much like Halloween, finds children dressed in costumes seeking gifts of money or candies as they knock on people’s doors. The children are welcomed as part of the opportunity to celebrate life.
However the community opts to celebrate the Day of the Dead, it is intended as a loving and living tribute to those who are still missed and still loved and certainly remembered throughout the communities of the world. In that regard, the Day of the Dead is a truly beautiful holiday!