Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Today, October 31 is Halloween but more important in Mexico is Dia de los Muertos. Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is actually 2 days, November 1st and 2nd. Both Halloween and Day of the Dead have similar decorations so they are sometimes confused to be the same concept.
However they are actually very different, for one Halloween is considered a children’s holiday, adults may use it as a reason to have a party but it is mostly for children. While Dia de Los Muertos is for the entire family as they usually visit the graves of loved ones together as a family event. The custom is that families go to the graveyard to visit the graves of passed family members and friends. They usually clean the graves and perhaps paint the grave stones which are often just cement. There are entrepreneurial young boys going around with a can of white paint and brush offering their services. Infront of the Graveyard there are many other small businesses selling flowers and decorations for the graves as well as traditional food and drinks street style.
In Puerto Vallarta they have begun embracing the Festival with Ofrendas (Alters) decorating many of the downtown streets and public buildings. There is a great street party with the street closed off for a day infront of the Municipal Market aka Flea Market in the Historic Zone. The previous year they had live music, Charros and food and drink. This year there is also a street party on the street that goes to the Pier on Los Muertos Beach in the Romantic Zone. Local groups sell home baked goods and there are some great decorations.
History of Day of the Dead ~ Dia de los Muertos
Day of the Dead is an interesting holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico on the days of November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones.
They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.
In most Indian villages, beautiful altars (ofrendas) are made in each home. They are decorated with candles, buckets of flowers (wild marigolds called cempasuchil & bright red cock’s combs) mounds of fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto. The altar needs to have lots of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water for the weary spirits. Toys and candies are left for the angelitos, and on Nov. 2, cigarettes and shots of mezcal are offered to the adult spirits. Little folk art skeletons and sugar skulls, purchased at open-air markets, provide the final touches.
Day of the Dead is a very expensive holiday for these self-sufficient, rural based, indigenous families. Many spend over two month’s income to honor their dead relatives. They believe that happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families. Ofrenda building keeps the family close.
On the afternoon of Nov. 2, the festivities are taken to the cemetery. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to the village band and reminisce about their loved ones. Tradition keeps the village close. Day of the Dead is becoming very popular in the U.S.~ perhaps because we don’t have a way to celebrate and honor our dead, or maybe it’s because of our fascination with it’s mysticism.
The Catholic World
Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico and the Catholic world… Italy, Spain, South America and the Philippines all celebrate All Souls and All Saints Day on November 1st and 2nd. Special Masses and perhaps cleaning of the cemetery tombs are part of the traditional activities… it’s only in Central and Southern Mexico where the colorful parties take place in the cemeteries and elaborate ofrenda altars are built in the homes to honor specific family members who have passed on.
With the growing Latino Market in the United States and the popularity of all that is Mexican or Latino it is no surprise that the popular DOD art is so widely popular. Still I was surprised to find a site with amazing Dia de los Muertos art all for iphone cases at Shop Thaneeya
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