Day Of The Dead, or Dia De Los Muertos, is a Mexican celebration that we all know about, and even if you don’t celebrate it, you’ve probably seen the festive parades or other ceremonies events. But what’s the history behind it all?
The origins of Day Of The Dead can be traced back to about 3,000 to rituals where the dead were honored and commemorated, in Aztecian Meso-America. They believed that death was simply the next step of life, they believed that when someone died they would go to Chicunamictlán, which was their Land of the Dead. After they die it takes them several years to make it there, going through nine layers of challenges, before finally making it to Mictlán. In Nahua cultures a ritual was held in August, leaving offerings of food, beverage, and tools that the deceased could use in their journey to the afterlife.
In medieval Spain there was a tradition where leave out pan de animas and wine at the graves of their loved ones, also lighting many candles, which would light the way of the departed souls as they came to visit their old home, and also leaving offerings of flowers on the graves as well. Later in the 16th century, when Spanish conquistadors came to the Americas they brought these traditions with them
On Dia De Los Muertos death doesn't represent an absence or something negative, if not the presence of life, the return of the dead to the living world. The passed are believed to return and visit the ofrenda left for them, with pictures, offerings of their favorite foods and drinks, candles, and flowers [typicaly marigolds.]
It should go unsaid that this holiday is still widely celebrated by people all over the world- the traditions haven't changed over time a whole lot, or at least competitively to Halloween. It's a beautiful, colorful celebration, if you can attend the festive parades it's something you won't forget!