DAY OF THE DEAD
The fascination with the Day of the Dead is shared by many cultures throughout the world. In Europe, Halloween originated from the ominous festivals of a few Celtic cults more than three thousand years ago, spread around the globe, and eventually became one of the most well-known customs.
In October, people are already getting into the Halloween spirit by decorating their homes, making the ideal costumes, and organizing parties.
What a pity that in Orlando, it is much more popular and there are more things to do on Halloween than on the Day of the Dead.
However, there are some activities to do if you are interested in knowing more about this day.
What to do in Orlando on the Day of the Dead?
You can go to the Downtown Arts District’s annual themed exhibition and outdoor experience. This event celebrates Día de Los Muertos and Halloween.
Also, Jeffers and Sánchez’s display of altars at the Mexican Consulate in Orlando is part of the cultural celebration of Día de Los Muertos on November 2. During the celebration, they will have an altar contest and a tasting of the bread of the dead and hot chocolate.
Who hasn’t seen the Disney Pixar film, Coco?
It’s about Miguel, a young boy who aspires to be a musician. His family forbids him because his great-great-grandfather, a musician, abandoned them, and they want to force Miguel, like the rest of the family, to become a shoemaker. Miguel accidentally enters the Land of the Dead, where he can only leave if a deceased relative gives her blessing, but his great-great-grandmother refuses to let him return to the living unless she promises he will not be a musician.
As a result, Miguel flees her and begins searching for his great-great-grandfather. “Coco” is a film about borders above all—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute agony produced when a border separates you from your family. The story’s conflict stems from the inability to cross over; the resolution is that love pulls you through to the other side.
The topic of this article will be the Mexican commemoration of the dead.
Regarded as the most important holiday in Mexican culture.
It’s one of the most lovely seasons of the year, with lots of flowers, delicious dishes, costumes, folklore, music, and fireworks. Don’t be misled, though; even though these days are set aside to remember the dead, they are occasions for celebration rather than lamentation. This is so because Mexican society has a completely different perspective on death than other cultures because of its historical roots.
It is believed that if the spirits of the deceased return they will be offended if their families and loved ones are moping, this is why all their skeletons’ representations are smiling and dancing, and their decorations are colorful.
The concept of death has long been significant in Mexican culture.
Native Americans have revered the goddess of death known as “Mictecacihuatl” in prehispanic Mexican mythology since prehistoric times.
She is the queen of the ninth and final level of the underworld, the custodian of the bones, and the wife of darkness.
In their mythology, there is no such thing as hell or heaven; rather, each soul must journey through each level of the underworld before arriving at “Mictlan,” where they can rest in peace without any more problems.
This is a difficult endeavor, though, as there are many tigers, dangerous beasts, and big rivers that are nearly impassable.
Originally, people observed the day of the dead in August to honor those who made it through the afterlife and remember and assist those who did not.
However, this was altered by the entrance of the Spanish conquistadors. Because of Christian influence, the holiday was relocated to October to conform to their religious beliefs. This changed the holiday for many years, transforming it into what we now recognize as the Day of the Dead.
Incredibly, this belief survived the conquest after they eliminated the majority of prehistoric people, and the only reason it did is that they were able to combine it with Christianity.
Today “the day of the dead” is the most important celebration for Mexicans, even more than Christmas.
In most of Mexico people start to build alters for the deceased in mid October, slowly adding all the right elements for it to be perfect on the celebration days.
The date for the Day of The Dead goes as follows.
In some regions of Mexico, they begin on Octobe 27th, which is recognized as the day for people who died as a result of violence.
November 28th is designated as Suicide Awareness Day,
In honor of those who drowned on November 29.
November 30th is a memorial day for accident fatalities.
At midnight on October 31st, they bid farewell to the deceased and greet “the angels” and the “little death.”
On November 1st, it is thought that the dead come to the altar.
Finally, on November 2nd, people visit cemeteries to honor the deceased.
The alter has to represent the 4 elements:
People use a barre bowl filled with water to represent this vital liquid. As for earth they use fruits like orange, lime, guava and apple. And to represent fire candles are used and should burn for most of the night, lastly, for air, colorful chopped paper with funky designs are used.
It is also very common to add typical traditional foods or maybe the deceased favorite dish, but you will always find a piece of bread made only for these days called “pan de Muertos” (bread of the dead). Pan de Muertos is a delicious butter bread covered with sugar.
It is amazing to walk around the cities of Mexico during the 1st and 2nd of November.
Another important elements that you will be seeing, not only in the alters but all around the streets and graveyards, is the “Cempasuchil (Marigold)” flower. The Marigold flower is believed to bring the deceased as well as guide then back to the spirit world once the festivities are over. In Mexico, the Marigold flower perfume is already pervasive, copal smoke is almost always present. Even the sidewalks are lined with colorfully cut paper decorated with skeletons.
They have big parades with people dressed up as classical skeletons like popular characters from Mexican stories such as the “Catrina & the Catrin”. Mexican people are drinking and laughing all together during this celebration.
For once in a year people leave their difference behind and celebrate all together, no matter your race or culture here they all party like one big family.
It is truly magical once the sun goes down everyone start going to the graveyard’s where your family or close friends whom passed away rest in peace.
People come and fill the place with lights, music, foods and drinks, it is a big party in the graveyards. It is truly incredible how in other parts of the world, people are scared to step into graveyards, but not here, not during day of the dead.
This time is dedicated for them, so they will be remembered, so they could feel the warmth of the ones who love them, this is the day of the dead and we will make sure each one of the souls can feel welcome once more around the living.