Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday. It is celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican ancestry living in other places including the United States.
Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos)
A public holiday in Mexico, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Originally celebrated in the summer, this holiday is now associated during October 31 to November 2 each year. The change was to have it be along with these celebrations: Halloween, Allhallowtide: All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. The roots can date back to Aztec days (Some 3,000 years ago) and to the goddess Mictēcacihuātl (Mictecacihuatl). Mictēcacihuātl means Lady of the Dead.
On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.
Celebrations including creations of private altars (ofrendas) to remember the dead. Plus, they say they are praying and paying reverence to friends and family members who have died. They would visit the graves of the deceased and bring gifts. These gifts would include the deceased favorite food and beverages. Not to mention, even possessions they have left behind too. By visiting the graves family and friends would hope the the deceased soul would hear their prayers. Not only do they hope they hear their prayers, the family or friends would hope the soul of the loved one would visit them too. They would not only do prayers, but tell anecdotes about the deceased too. Even a sweet bread (Pan de muerto) is made during this time too.
In many indigenous or rural areas, the Day of the Dead can be quite expensive, with many families spending several month’s income to honor dead relatives. Often, people will dance and make loud noise to wake up the dead. The belief is this day is a day to celebrate and not mourn. Part of the celebrations also including cleaning of the graves. Another belief is that if the loved one was to return and find their family or friends didn’t built an alter they would seek revenge.
The Sugar Skull
The skull has became the most common symbol for this holiday. which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for skeleton). Known as Sugar Skulls (Calaveras de Aúcar), represented a departed soul. Often the name was written on the forehead. Usually placed on the gravestone or private altars (ofrendas) to honor the return of a particular spirit. The name says it all, these skulls were primary made out of sugar. However, these treats sounds yummy, but they are not treats you would eat in Mexico. You will see these sugar skulls are decorated colorfully. Color is a symbol of life. One of the points of these is that death is guaranteed to everyone.
Frances Ann Day summarizes the three-day celebration, the Day of the Dead:
“On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.”— Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature
- Día de los Muerto
- Finados in Brazil
- Dia de los ñatitas (Day of the Skulls) in Bolivia
- Hanal Pixan (Food for the Souls) in Belize
- Almacho Dis (Souls Day) in India
As we can see this holiday has evil dark roots. During this time it is believed that Heavens gates are opened and souls can communicate with people. We all know that we cannot wake the dead. Not to mention, we cannot communicate with the dead like they believe. The only time the dead will arise is when Jesus comes for the Church. The dead in Christ will rise first. Can you image that scene? Dead people coming out of their graves? After that, then the rest of us will be called up. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
No such thing as a god or goddess
Plus, there is no god or goddess of the underworld. When Satan is cast into hell, he will be there for torment too. He won’t be a ruler of hell or in control of hell. Hell will be eternal separation from God. None of this celebration is Biblical!
Do not Consult the dead!
Plus, we are told not to consult the dead! See Leviticus 19:31 New American Standard Bible (NASB) “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.” Even Deuteronomy 18:10-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB) “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.”
Cannot Cross Over
Remember the story of rich man in hell that wanted to send a message to Lazarus of the dangers of hell. The Bible tells us that ‘those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ You can read about that at Luke 16:24-26. Plus, we only die once, then face judgement (Hebrews 9:27). There is not coming back and forth!
First published October 25, 2017. Last republished or updated November 1, 2023.
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