DIA DE LOS MUERTOS FACTS
"It is not death that a man should fear,
but he should fear never beginning to live."
- Marcus Aurelius
Villages in rural Mexico are known for stopping all other activities for days surrounding the holiday.
In urban areas, some of the customs are different, and costumed children roam the streets, knocking on doors to ask for candy. This trick-or-treating furthers the Halloween confusion.
Beyond Mexico, the holiday is celebrated in Latin America and is on the rise even in the non-Latin populations of the United States, the South Pacific, Europe and Oceania. Similar rituals take place throughout Asia and Africa.
But however different the ceremonies and celebrations may be, the intent of Day of the Day is the same: the spirits of the deceased still live within their family and friends. The lives of people who have touched others are to be cherished, celebrated, remembered, and passed on through the generations.
"The Butterfly" Artwork by Ginette Rondeau
"Day of the Dead Rascals" Artwork by Tony de Carlo
Although Day of the Dead and Halloween do share skeletons and a place on the calendar, there are major differences. Look at the skulls in Dia de los Muertos ceremonies... they are not ghoulish… they are smiling!
Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the Aztecs viewed it as the continuation of life. They didn't fear death; they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.
But five centuries ago all this eluded the invading Spaniards. In their attempts to convert the natives to Catholicism, the Spaniards tried to kill the ritual. But it refused to die.
To make it more Christian, the Spaniards moved it from its August dates so it coincided with Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (November 1 when it is believed that the spirits of the children come to visit and the 2nd when the adults come).
Today's ceremonies are often rich with crosses, rosaries and “The Virgin of Guadalupe,” images, indicating the blending of Catholicism.