El Dia de los Muertos or The Day of the Dead Celebration is a day dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed by celebrating their lives with festivals, parades, food, and ofrendas (offerings). This celebration, that originated in Mexico, is celebrated November 1 and combines the beliefs about death of the Indigenous people, who believed that death is the passage to new life, is meshed with the Catholic traditions of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2).
Dia de los Muertos is celebrated all over Latin America and even in some parts of the United States. Some celebrations take place in cemeteries where families create ofrendas with photos, marigolds, favorite items and foods of the deceased culminating with a picnic. Some ofrendas are created in homes often decorated with paper flowers, papel picado (paper banners cut into elaborate designs), sugar skulls or paper mache skulls, and food.
Some traditional food associated with the Day of the Dead Celebration are mole (chicken or pork cooked in a red chile sauce made with peanuts and chocolate) pan de muerto (bread made in the shape of bones or people), and sugar or chocolate made into the shape of skulls.
A calaca (Spanish word for skeleton) is made of wood, paper mache, candy and sugar. They are depicted as happy and dancing in honor of deceased relatives. Calacas have become very popular in art today and can be seen in modern art, movies, on t-shirts, and even painted on faces for Halloween.
This Mexican tradition teaches us that death is not a sad occasion, but rather a time to remember, celebrate, and honor our loved ones who have passed on.
Click here to make some of these Day of the Dead crafts for kids
Jackie Guzman, Extension Educator | The Learning Child
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