Celebrating Dia de los Muertos at Home

By | 29 October, 2021 | 0 comments

Celebra el Día de los Muertos en casa

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Latin America and, increasingly, in the U.S. Although similar to Halloween, Dia de los Muertos is a day for commemorating the dead and, as such, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Held on November 1st and 2nd, Day of the Dead is a life-affirming two-day celebration that pays homage to ancestors while promoting life-affirming joy. In fact, during festivities, participants strive to trade mourning for joy. The rich cultural significance of the event and its attention-getting sugar skulls and other associated traditions have drawn interest from around the globe.

There are numerous ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. We’ll explore its customs and unique aspects here so you can enjoy this special event at home. Use these tips to plan and celebrate Dia de los Muertos with family and friends.


What is Dia de los Muertos?

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos at Home

Dia de los Muertos is the Mexican Day of the Dead. With roots that stretch back to the time of the Aztecs, the holiday is a two-day event that celebrates the dead. Long before Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World, Aztecs honored their dead with the keeping of skulls. Today, specially designed ‘sugar skulls,’ also known as Calaveras, have become the ‘face’ of the holiday, with people adorning their faces with makeup to create sugar skull masks representing La Catrina, Mexico’s Grand Lady of the Afterlife.

Many families build altars to welcome the spirits of dead family members and make plans to visit graves during the two-day fest. Celebrations at home typically feature delicious food and treats, music, dazzling floral displays (primarily featuring marigolds), candles, and photographs of lost loved ones. The holiday is popular throughout Mexico and much of the Latin American world. Roughly a quarter of the U.S. population celebrates the Day of the Dead, but that number increases as more people learn about its meaning and wish to share in its celebrations.


How does Dia de los Muertos differ from Halloween?

Celebra el Día de los Muertos en casa

Dia de los Muertos is often referred to as Mexican Halloween, but its purpose is quite different. While similarities include skulls and skeletons and dressing up in costumes, Dia de los Muertos is about honoring the dead. In contrast, Halloween is a holiday with Celtic origins that originated as a festival for warding off ghosts and celebrating with mischief and merry-making. Dia de los Muertos, while celebratory, features a somber, respectful element for those who have passed, while Halloween, today, is enjoyed purely as a fun celebration filled with treats, parties, games, and costumes


Why Is Dia de los Muertos Important to Mexicans?

Celebra el Día de los Muertos en casa

Dia de los Muertos is a time for setting grief aside to pay homage to the dead through joyful celebration. The holiday has evolved to revere ancestors and help those grieving ease their sorrow through communion with the dead, music, and merriment. Often, families plan get-togethers centered around a central altar adorned with photos of departed family members, candles, and marigolds.

What is the Significance of the Traditional Dia de los Muertos Altar?

Celebra el Día de los Muertos en casa

The altar is significant to Day of the Dead celebrations because it’s the focal point for celebrations. Before the holiday, family members build the altar and adorn it with framed photographs of ancestors along with candles and marigolds. Marigolds are bright yellow and orange flowers that are believed to attract the spirits of the dead. Families also place cherished personal items, food, drink, and sugar skulls on the altars for the souls of the dead to enjoy. 

How to Celebrate the Day of the Dead at Home

Celebra el Día de los Muertos en casa

You can celebrate this holiday at home, too, by constructing an altar to lost loved ones. You can make or purchase sugar skulls, add dazzling floral arrangements to your altar, and plan other festivities like a family feast, complete with plenty of your favorite Mexican cuisine and drink. If you’re hosting a Day of the Dead celebration, you can serve foods like tacos along with Mexican hot chocolate or drinks spiked with tequila. You can paint a sugar skull on your face or dress up as La Catrina and attend a nearby Day of the Dead parade or celebration.

It’s important to remember that although Dia de los Muertos is a time for celebration and joy, it’s also a time of reverence for those who have departed. Many people may find it challenging to set aside their sorrow. This is one of the ways that the holiday differs decidedly from Halloween. However, for many, the holiday helps to encourage the healing process with its respite from grief and participation in cherished cultural customs.


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Categories: Caribbean, Día de los muertos, Mexico

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