30 Oct 2017
But why? Why is this holiday such a festive time when families are honoring such a sad moment – the passing of a family member or friend? Read on to find out the historical and changing face of the Day of the Dead
Original Day of the Dead Celebrations
Well, looking at the history of the festival provides the answers we need. Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos was originally celebrated in the 9th month of the Aztec calendar before Mexico was conquered by the Spanish. Pre Hispanic cultures celebrated for an entire month not just two days. But in came the Spanish and the influence of Catholicism and the dates for this holiday changed. Indigenous communities aligned their cultural celebration of the dead with the Catholic holidays All Saints Day and All Souls Day, November 1 and 2 respectively. This change has been maintained so Day of the Dead celebrations now fall on November 1 and November 2.
November 1 is when families celebrate and honor young children who have passed and November 2 is for adults. The celebration is no longer a month, but a mere two days.
Marigolds, Altars and the Four Elements
Though international influences have changed the dates, historical traditions have been maintained. Families continue use the Marigold flower as the flower of choice for celebrations, and alters are still used to honor and welcome the souls of the deceased. The Marigold flower symbolizes the sun, and represents life and hope. Alters always have the favorite foods, drinks, and possessions of the deceased. Families also intertwine the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water on the altar. This is why we see so many candles, flowers and bowls of liquid on the many altars seen over the holiday. It is also not unusual to see fresh vegetables and fruits on the alters as well.
Other Little But Important Facts about Day of the Dead
The final cool tidbit about Day of the Dead is the decision by UNESCO to include this holiday and its traditions in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity category of its treasured list of cultural activities.
Bottom line is, this tradition still holds onto the basic belief of Mexico’s indigenous cultures. It is believed the soul is eternal and can travel back and forth from this world and the next. The celebration of the Day of the Dead is based on the belief that the souls of their loved ones will come back and visit them. Families celebrate the return of the soul instead of mourn the death of a loved one. Family members are eternally remembered, making this a beautiful holiday of love, life and family.
Curious about more traditions that make up this famous Mexican Holiday? Get your tickets for the Xcaret festival Vida y Muerte Festival that runs from October 30 to November 2. When you purchase your tickets for the park your evening entrance is free during the festival!
Get a special discount when you purchase your Xcaret Day Pass here Xcaret 10% Off + 5 USD This coupon will give you the admission to the park & festival. It is a great deal for this season.