Why Do People Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos | Mexican History

by Christian Barraza | Mexican History

I was born in Los Angeles to a huge Mexican family and although I was exposed to many traditions this one was not one I remember vividly. Dia De Los Muertos is a holiday that is celebrated throughout Latin America on November 1st and 2nd. After doing some research I found that this ritual dates back thousands of years and was practiced largely by central Mexico. On November 1s and 2nd it's believed that the border between our world and the spirit world open.

 

Why Do People Leave Food And Drinks?

It is said that on Dia De Los Muertos, our loved ones are given the chance to cross over to our world again. So, we treat our loved ones who have passed as honorary guests in a party setting. Some visit the grave sites of their loved ones to leave aid and others create what is known as "Ofrendas" or makeshift altars. The creative process that it takes to create Ofrendas allow the entire family an opportunity to come together. There is typically music, food, drinks and parades to celebrate the crossing over of our loved ones.

 

 Where Did Dia De Los Muertos Come From?

After doing some research I found that this ritual dates back roughly 3,000 years and was practiced largely by central Mexico. It is said that Aztecs and other neighboring tribes had a different perspective on death. They believed that once dead, members had to travel to Chicunamictlan, known as the land of the dead. Once there, they had to go through 9 levels of challenge to finally get to their resting place called, "Mictlan." A more modern approach was brought to, "The New World" when Spanish conquistadors invaded the Mexican population.

Although rituals like these can be found across the world, the core principle of this holiday is constant. For our Mexican culture, it is believed that death is a necessary part of life and one that should be looked at in a positive light. The beauty of life comes from the fact that we don't get to stay here forever.

 

Sources:

“Day of the Dead”

“Dia De Los Muertos”