Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed on. The celebration takes place on November 1st, when the souls of children are remembered, and the 2nd, when the souls of adults are remembered.
Homes and communities will create ofrendas, or alters with photographs of their ancestors. On these ofrendas, you might see papel picado, water, pan de muerto, marigolds, candles, and monarch butterflies. You might also see trinkets or momentos that were special to the family members during their lives. This can also include favorite drinks or food, or little toys and candy for the children.
Earth, wind, fire, and water are all represented on an ofrenda. Fire is represented with candles. Water is set out for the spirits to drink after their long journey. Pan de muerto, or bread is set out as food for the spirits and to represent Earth. Wind is represented through papel picado.
Papel picado translates to chopped paper, or cut paper. During Day of the Dead, papel picado signifies the fragile nature of life, and the union between life and death. The holes in the paper are seen as passageways through from the other side, and they are said to have arrived when you see your papel move.
A popular offering for children is a sugar skull. Sugar skulls are used to represent a departed soul. They also signify the sweetness of life. Before they were commercially produced, sugar skulls were hand-made in small batches.
You might also see monarch butterflies, and marigolds during day of the dead. Marigolds have a unique scent that is said to help guide the spirits back to Earth.
In Mexico, monarch butterflies will arrive for their annual migration around the Day of the Dead and are believed to carry the souls of departed ancestors who are coming to visit.
If you're interested in learning more, click here to watch a YouTube video on Day of the Dead.
For a wonderful local celebration, click here for Old Town Scottsdale's annual Day of the Dead festival.
Thank you for being here to learn about this beautiful tradition and Feliz dia de los muertos!