by SAVANNAH GARZA
The Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico that is celebrated for three days. The occasion starts on October 31 and lasts until November 2. November 1 celebrates the kids, but on November 2 it celebrates the adults; the Day of the Dead is a Mexican celebration of those who have passed on.
Altars are made celebrating their loved ones and have items such as candles, marigolds, incense, salt, a photo of the deceased, pan de muerto, sugar skulls, fresh fruit, as well as other Mexican delicacies. Every item on the altar has a different meaning. Candles are lit to welcome the spirits back to their families the yellow-orange flowers, known as cempasuchitl, symbolize death. The strong fragrance emitting from the marigolds lead the way for the dead to return to their altars. Marigold petals may also be sprinkled on the floor in front of the altar, or even sprinkled along a path from the altar to the front door, so that the spirit may find their way inside. The most commonly used incense is copal, which is the dried aromatic resin from a tree that originates in Mexico. The salt represents the continuance of life, and the photo is usually placed as the centerpiece of the altar. Pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, symbolizes the departed. The sugar skulls represents death and the afterlife; these skulls are not only given as gifts to the living during the holiday, but they are also offerings. The fruit is usually what is in season such as oranges, bananas, or apples. Other foods that are placed on the altar include atole, mole, tamales, and tortillas. Typically, the altar also holds the deceased’s favorite foods that are not limited to only Mexican items, but can include common items such as rice krispies or potato chips.
The Day of the Dead is celebrated in homes or graveyards. During the week in most Spanish classes, they made items such as papel picado, colored skulls, and even altars for famous celebrities. The Day of the Dead is my favorite topic to learn and talk about in Spanish. There is a movie that is based on Dia de Los Muertos – it is called The Book of Life. The Book of Life is a very colorful, funny, and romantic movie about the Mexican holiday. Ultimately, the Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican holiday where altars are made for the dead and the spirits can see their families once more.