Dia de los Muertos celebrates the dead in Mesoamerican cultures
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 00:11
Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a holiday celebrating deceased loved ones. Mexico and parts of the United States honor this holiday.
Día de los Muertos is arguably the most commonly known Mexican holiday. According to National Endowment for the Humanities, the holiday is a mixture of European traditions brought by the raiding Spanish conquistadores, indigenous cultures and the catholic religion.
Pre-Hispanic cultures believed that during the fall season, departed souls could return to the living world where they could be with their family and friends, according to National Endowment for the Humanities.
Skulls are a big part of the celebration according to Carlos Miller, writer for The Arizona Republic. The Aztecs and other indigenous civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during rituals. The skulls represented death and rebirth. It was said that the dead could come back and visit during the ceremony. In present day, people wear skull masks made of wood called calacas. While wearing the masks, people dance in honor of their departed loved ones.
Like the indigenous civilizations, the skulls are placed on alters that are devoted to the dead. According to Miller, the popularized sugar skull’s are decorated with bright colors and the names of the deceased on the skulls forehead. It is also told that the sugar skull is eaten by a family member or close friend, according to Mary J. Adrade, who has written three books on the ritual.
Day of the Dead and Halloween are related in different ways. According to National Endowment for the Humanities, both holidays decorate with pictures of skeletons and have spooky shaped sweets. Day of the Dead makes bread called pan de muertos and sugar skulls.
Huntsville Public Library is holding a free Día de los Muertos celebration at 2-3:15 p.m. today. There will be pan de muertos. Beth Williamson and her advanced Spanish class will be hosting the event and will provide information about this well-known and popularized holiday.