Throwback Thursday: The Day of the Dead Tradition

While people all over the world celebrate Halloween today, others associate the night of October 31 with the beginning of “el Día de los Muertos” (The Day of the Dead). Today’s traditions in Mexico and many other Spanish-speaking countries are quite different than those celebrated in the United States. The Day of the Dead is a tradition where the living meet those who have passed.

What’s important to understand here is that this celebration is not like Halloween at all, or like a lot of the celebrations dedicated to the dead in other parts of the world. There’s no sadness, tears or fear for the dead. It’s all about bringing the soul here again.

During the Day of the Dead, the living gather not only to remember their loved ones, but they meet with their deceased, cook the deceased’s favorite meal and serve their favorite drink… It’s a day in which the loved one (or ones) is with them again. Families set up altars (where they meet with the dead), exchange calaverita (little sugar or chocolate skulls, traditionally with the living’s name on it), light candles (so they dead can find the altars) and bring flowers and incense (symbolically purifying the souls).

Some other cultures might see the Day of the Dead traditions as creepy: making human baby-shaped bread or making and exchanging calaverita (which is what the souls are going to see when they come back).

The Day of the Dead is gaining popularity in the U.S. (as Halloween continues to gain popularity in Latin America) as cultures continue to converge. Some northern cities in Mexico and many American cities with high Mexican populations mix these celebrations together. Some children even ask for a “calaverita” instead of a “Trick-or-Treat.”

Today’s dual celebrations show how cultures can blend together, as missions initially brought many Europeans to the Americas. While the Day of the Dead is not the Latin American Halloween (it’s its own tradition), a synergy does exist between the Pre-Hispanic beliefs towards death and the Catholic religion imposed by Spanish missionaries during colonialism.

Cover Photo Source: AGCuesta

 Alex is a junior executive at SJG. A native of Spain, he majored in Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Málaga. His personal philosophy, stay focused on the game, drives his work and creativity. Alex is hardcore gamer, movie theatergoer and is always online. You can always find him catching up on the latest TV show and discussing it on the net.