Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Dia de los Muertos

(Day of the Dead)

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a public Mexican holiday which focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family who have died.  This Mexican holiday and associated celebrations/festivals/rituals have been observed for perhaps as long as 2,500 – 3,000 years.

Traditions connected with Dia de los Muertos include building private alters called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using photographs, sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting the graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves and at the ofrendas.

By the late 20th century these practices had developed to honor dead children and infants on November 1 and to honor deceased adults on November 2. November 1 is generally referred to as Dia de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) but also as Dia de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels); November 2 is referred to as Dia de los Muertos or Dia de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead).  On October 31 All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s ofrenda to invite the Angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back to visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Saints Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. It is common to decorate the graves with orange Mexican marigolds sometimes called Flor de Muerto (Flower of the Dead) thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings left at the grave. Offerings include toys for the los Angelitos or the little angle, trinkets, candies, pan de muertos (bread of the dead), sugar skulls and tequila for the adults.

The photographs were taken at the 2014 Dia de los Muertos festivities at El Mercado and La Villita in San Antonio, Texas

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