Day of the Dead a Tradition that Lives on


Estephania Anaya-Lopez

From flamboyant colors to decorated calacas and Calaveras, el Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holds an enduring place among Mexico’s most-known traditions. From midnight of October 31 to November 2, the annual opening of Heaven’s gates and the reunion of the dead with the living is celebrated.

Starting on November 1, when children’s souls are permitted into the living world, and extending through November 2, when the remaining souls are allowed in, families begin honoring. Ofrendas are altars with food, drinks, pictures, candles, and marigolds welcoming the deceased are found inside homes. Outside of home-based activities, families participate in parades and make visits to gravesites.

Though its modern form looks different, the Day of the Dead was a tradition started thousands of years ago by natives (e.g., Aztec, Toltec, etc.). Later, when Europeans–that is to say, Spaniards–brought their religion and its traditions, such as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, the ideas melded together and created contemporary Día de Los Muertos.

Despite the nuances in how it’s celebrated, the Day of the Dead does a brilliant job at not only honoring the dead and celebrating the living but also at bringing entire communities together.