Celebrating Ancestral History through Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead)

Nov 02, 2020

Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a two-day festival that takes place every November 1 and 2. It is most strongly associated with Mexico, but Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Latin America. It is a day meant to honor the dead with festivals and lively celebrations, which combine indigenous Aztec rituals with some of the conquistadors' Catholicism (since it is celebrated on All Saints Day and All Souls Day). Instead of looking at death through a lens of sadness or mourning, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. The holiday recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience and uses this day to bring the dead back into the community as a natural part of the community even in their passing.

On Dia de los Muertos the dead are called on to share in the celebrations with their loved ones. Often this means that families take a picnic to the cemetery or set up an altar in their home to a loved one. Usually these sites are decorated with flowers, candles, and other memories that pay tribute to the life of the loved one. This can include a loved one's favorite food dishes, playing their favorite music, and celebrating some of their favorite past times. Often in this process it is a time for family members to share stories of loved ones who have passed and take the opportunity to update them on the lives of those they loved. This shared heritage moment is a reflection on the beauty of life both for those living and those passed.

For those interested in Exploring Their Genealogy GetSetUp offers a class to help you find out more about your ancestry. Or if you are interested in learning more about how to share your stories with others you can take Write or Record Family History or Life Story Using Online Tools. This way you too can see how to celebrate life and death in all its stages, just like Dia de Los Muertos embraces death as a natural part of life to be celebrated through constant inclusion of family and friends both living and dead on this special holiday.

The bright colors of the skulls are a reminder of the celebratory nature of the festivities. 


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