Dia De Los Muertos
Day of the Dead, or Día de Los Muertos, is celebrated on November 2 every year. The holiday is of Mexican origin but is observed by many other cultures.
A common misconception about the holiday is that it merely celebrates the dead with sugar skulls, parades and lots of vibrant colors but what many fail to see is that there is much more to the custom. The tradition is to honor those who have passed, to offer prayer for them, and to help support their spiritual journey. It’s a widespread focus on the gathering of family and friends to help commemorate all of those that they have lost.
Many of the above named items and ideas are key factors in the celebration of the holiday, but many of the communities and cultures that observe the holiday also believe that the “souls of the departed return… to provide council or give advice to family and loved ones,” said Helen Tafoya, Clinical Counselor.
On Nov 2, families will commonly visit their loved one’s gravesite to decorate and maintain the graves.Traditionally, singing, eating and storytelling occur at the gravesite, enhancing the celebration and making it a joyous occasion.
“In the United States or for those for whom visiting the gravesite is not viable, (often graveyards are closed during the evening hours),” says Tafoya, “the tradition has been adapted.” Places of worship and prayer will be set up in homes and events, largely organized by the community, will be available for all of those who participate in the observance of the day.
People often glance over the sugar skull as a simple decoration for the holiday, but in reality they’re very important for the holiday. They are not masks, or meant to be decoration they are meant to represent the dead. Flowers, skulls, food are all staples of the holiday, and they all have significance. Many sugar skulls are painted with smiles to symbolize the happy spirits.
Happy spirits are commonly believed to look over the families and present them with good luck and fortune. The lively events and manners in which the holiday is celebrated are colorful and vivid, making the holiday “a true celebration of life” according to Tafoya.