What do sugar skulls, marigolds and monarch butterflies have in common? With the help of the Smithsonian Latino Center, Smithsonian Insider has rounded up five things you should know about this holiday:. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Latino Center. While Halloween is celebrated Oct.
Certain months were dedicated to remembering the departed, based on whether the deceased was an adult or a child. After the arrival of the Spanish, this ritual of commemorating the dead was intertwined with two Spanish holidays: All Saints Day Nov. Recently it has become increasingly popular among Latino communities abroad, including in the United States. Ancient Mesoamericans believed that death was part of the journey of life.
Día de los Muertos | Hollywood Forever
Rather than death ending life, they believed that new life came from death. This cycle is often associated with the cyclical nature of agriculture, whereby crops grow from the ground where the last crop lies buried. Some popular dances include La Danza de los Viejitos—the dance of the little old men—in which boys and young men dress as old men, walk around crouched over then suddenly jump up in an energetic dance.
Another dance is La Danza de los Tecuanes— the dance of the jaguars—that depicts farm workers hunting a jaguar. The ofrenda, or altar, is composed of mementos, photographs and objects of loved ones who have died and is intended to honor and remember their lives.
Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte Xcaret
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate the altar. Scattered from altar to gravesite, marigold petals guide wandering souls back to their place of rest. The smoke from copal incense, made from tree resin, transmits praise and prayers and purifies the area around the altar. Today the practice is alive and well.
You work up a mighty hunger and thirst traveling from the spirit world back to the realm of the living. Other common offerings:. Pan de muerto , or bread of the dead , is a typical sweet bread pan dulce , often featuring anise seeds and decorated with bones and skulls made from dough.
5 Facts About Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)
The bones might be arranged in a circle, as in the circle of life. Tiny dough teardrops symbolize sorrow. Sugar skulls are part of a sugar art tradition brought by 17th-century Italian missionaries.
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Pressed in molds and decorated with crystalline colors, they come in all sizes and levels of complexity. Drinks, including pulque , a sweet fermented beverage made from the agave sap; atole , a thin warm porridge made from corn flour, with unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla added; and hot chocolate. Day of the Dead is an extremely social holiday that spills into streets and public squares at all hours of the day and night.
Dressing up as skeletons is part of the fun. People of all ages have their faces artfully painted to resemble skulls, and, mimicking the calavera Catrina, they don suits and fancy dresses.
Many revelers wear shells or other noisemakers to amp up the excitement—and also possibly to rouse the dead and keep them close during the fun. Artisans stack colored tissue paper in dozens of layers, then perforate the layers with hammer and chisel points. Draped around altars and in the streets, the art represents the wind and the fragility of life.
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But the most authentic celebrations take place in Mexico. If you find yourself in Mexico City the weekend before Day of the Dead this year, make sure to stop by the grand parade where you can join in on live music, bike rides and other activities in celebration throughout the city.
10 Fascinating “Day Of The Dead” Facts And Traditions
The spiritual home is Oaxaca, but here are a few places that stand out for their colourful and moving celebrations:. In this Mexico City suburb, bells from the historic Augustinian convent toll and community members bearing candles and flowers process to the local cemetery, where they clean and decorate the graves of their loved ones.
This small city in the northeastern part of Oaxaca state is best known for its sawdust rugs. For days, locals painstakingly arrange colored sawdust, flower petals, rice, pine needles, and other organic materials in elaborate, ruglike patterns on city streets. The festival culminates in a grand parade of skulls along Avenida Madero.