What is Day of the Dead?

By Maria Gleason, Staff Writer

Day of the dead is a Mexican holiday that starts on November 1st and ends on November 2nd. The holiday is celebrated to remember past friends and family members. The ritual started 3,000 years ago and is still lives on. Day of the Dead is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a public holiday.

Traditions connected with the holiday include: honoring the dead using sugar skulls which represented a departed soul, marigolds, favorite foods, beverages of the deceased, and visiting graves with these items as gifts. They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of all the deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.

The altar is the table in a Christian church at which the bread and wine are consecrated in communion services. Altars can be made in a home, cemetery or church. They are traditionally decorated with candles, buckets of flowers, mounds of fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, and stacks of tortillas. The altar needs to have lots of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water for the exhausted spirits.

On November 2, the last day of day of the dead or otherwise known as all souls day, children dance with caricatures of death, eat skull sugar molds and learn to respect life. They learn there is a circle to life and to not fear death. Day of the dead is truly a celebration of life and a reminder that people are free to enjoy and appreciate every moment.