Culture Factor: La Día De Los Muertos

Celebrating Mexican Culture - Dia De Los Muertos
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Hunter Epperson ~ Staff Writer

 La Día de Los Muertos is often forgotten or confused with Halloween. This year, the holiday was celebrated from Sunday, Nov. 1st, 2020 through Nov. 2nd, 2020.

What is La Día de Los Muertos?

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in many Latinx cultures, but predominantly in Mexican culture. The  purpose of the holiday is to celebrate and demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members and ancestors and is considered Mexico’s most colorful annual event. 

    The holiday is celebrated through cultural activities including the painting of faces to represent skeletons and making of offerings to their descendants.

    The holiday is also celebrated by covering a private altar in their own homes or cemeteries with offerings. Water is placed for the deceased spirits for their long journey back to earth. Food such as Pan de Muerto, or bread of the dead, or pan dulce, a typical sweet bread often featuring anise seeds and decorated with bones and skulls made from dough, are also offered. The bones might be arranged in a circle, representing the circle of life. Tiny dough teardrops symbolize sorrow. Offered drinks include hot chocolate, pulque, a sweet fermented beverage made from the agave sap, and atole, a thin warm porridge made from corn flour, with unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon, and added vanilla. Family photos, candles for each of the dead relatives, and marigold petals sprinkled on the floor to guide the souls of the loved ones back to their place of rest also decorate altars. Smoke from copal incense is burned to transmit praise and prayers while purifying the air around the area of the area. 

     Sometimes small toys are offered if the person is celebrating the life of a young child; however, during this holiday, many individuals celebrate the lives of their ancestors through things such as making papel picados by draping them around altars and in the streets. The art represents the fragility of life.

     Covering tomb sites with marigolds and other flowers is also a common occurrence, as is reading Calaveras, which are short, humorous, and sarcastic poems. Families often also gather  in the streets and public squares and celebrate.

     The holiday continues to have cultural and historical significance. 

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