Day of the Dead and Death Related Iconography
Day of the Dead is a holiday that is very popular in Mexico. This day people make altars, offerings of flowers, and rituals. In the altar you usually find photos, food, cempasuchil’s flowers, bottles of tequila, mezcal, pulque or atole, and scarecrows. The most popular food is the bread of the dead and scarecrows candy. The children disquise of skeletons, devils, witches, Catrinas, mummies and little angels; to ask for their calaverita. Day of the Dead or all souls’ day is a day where the cementeries are full of much people. It is believed that the spirit of the dead visit their families on October 31 and leave on November 2. It might sound somewhat morbid, but the Mexicans react to death with mourning along with happiness and joy.
They look at death with the same fear as any other culture, but there is a difference. They reflect their fear by mocking and living alongside death. Living alongside death means that Mexicans have learned to accept it within their lives. Death is apparent in everyday life. It is in art and even in children’s toys. It is not respected as it is in other cultures. Children play “funeral” with toys that are made to represent coffins and undertakers. During the days of the dead, the family often takes the opportunity to visit the gravesite and pull weeds, clean any debris and decorate the graves of loved ones.
Honouring dead loved ones and making peace with the eventuality of death by treating it familiarly, without fear and dread. The holiday is derived from the rituals of the pre-Hispanic people of Mexico. He intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed. Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead.
The meals are prepared for these picnics include tamales and pan de muerto (a special bread in the shape of a person). Many people believe that it is good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic toy skeleton hidden by the baker in each rounded loaf. Sweets are also included in the feast. These include, cookies, chocolate and sugar skulls. Friends and family members exchange gifts consisting of sugar skeletons or other items with a death related iconography.
Often times, a gift is more prized if the skull or skeleton has one’s own name written on it with icing. I had no idea what Dia de los Muertos was beforeparticipating in a class project that taught us about the Mexican holiday, which is observed Nov. 2 to honor dead loved ones. About most of the class was very interested in this topic which gave us a more of understanding about what the Hispanic people celebrate; however, this is only one celebration they celebrate but there are more.