History

What is El Dia de Los Muertos? [VIDEO]

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For those that have not grown up celebrating El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the holiday may need some explaining. Indigenous peoples of Central and Southern Mexico traditionally celebrated the holiday for a month during the late summer. The celebration is meant to honor those that have passed from this life to the next. Altars are set up in remembrance and colorful sugared skulls and marigolds are used as decoration. During the 20th century, more people in Northern Mexico began incorporating the celebration into their lives and the holiday spilled across the border into the United States brought with those who moved from Mexico to the U.S.

Today the celebration culminates with All Saint’s Day. The move from a late summer celebration to mid-autumn may have been influenced by the European migration into Mexico and the traditional Catholic three-day holiday that includes All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. Celebrations are often held in cemeteries where family members and friends decorate gravesites and leave possessions from those who’ve passed. Foods that the departed particularly enjoyed are prepared for a special meal and loved ones pray for guidance for those walking the pathways of their spiritual journey. For more information about the holiday’s origins and practice, take a look at the short video presented by the uNational Hispanic Cultural Center.

Video by YouTube user National Hispanic Cultural Center, August 2013.