The Mexicans remember and pay respect to their deceased relatives and friends on the El Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. The celebrations take place on the 1st and 2nd in the month of November corresponding with the Catholic festivals on All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.
It is a multi-day holiday in Mexico. The Mexicans have always believed that every year the souls of the departed visit their living relatives and enjoy the food and drinks offered to them.
The day is not a sad occasion but a happy lively one where spirits join the people in celebrations. The origins of this festival can be traced back to the ancient Aztec times.
Skull is the main symbol of this day. Skull shaped candies and sweets are especially made. Another specialty is the “pan de muerto” it is a coffee cake with meringues in the shape of bones. Decorations and ornaments in the form of skeletons and skulls are seen everywhere.
The rituals and traditions vary throughout Mexico. Most Mexicans honor their deceased children on the 1st of November (El Dia de los Innocentes: Day of the Innocent).
The graves of the children are cleaned and decorated with toys and balloons. The next day, homage is paid to the adult deceased. The main rituals involve cleaning of the graves and adorning them with “ofrendas”.
Ofrendas are offerings which include beautiful arrangements of flowers predominantly marigold, favorite food and drinks of the dead and personal items and favorite ornaments of the dead.
Candles are also lit and placed on the graves. Bells begin to ring at 6:00 PM at every 30 seconds to call the dead. The ringing continues till sunrise. At sunrise the vigil is over and the relatives head home.