Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) has been celebrated in Mexico for centuries. The holiday is an occasion to gather in celebration and remembrance of loved ones who have died. As I understand it, many people believe that the gates of heaven open on October 31, allowing the deceased to reunite with family on November 2.

As with every holiday, traditions and rituals accompany it. Those who partake often create elaborate altars (ofrendas) in tribute to those who have passed, and fill them with special food and colorful flowers. Elaborate sugar skulls are decorated for the festivities and have become one of the iconic images for the holiday.

Dia de los Muertos has always been celebrated outside of Mexico by those with Mexican heritage, but this year the holiday has taken on a new life of its own in the United States. One website called it “America’s Newest Holiday” and decorations have appeared for sale at many retailers.

Perhaps you will choose to add a new dimension to your end-of-October celebrations and incorporate Dia de los Muertos traditions into your family. But whether or not you make altars, candy skulls or special loaves of bread, I hope you use the occasion to reminisce about those who have gone before you. Take some time to tell stories about what made them special to you and how they impacted your life.

Let the day of the dead bring meaning and reflection to your living.

beth triplett

For Dia de los Muertos resources and instructions on making altars (ofrendas), click here.

Sources: Wikipedia and MexicanSugarSkull.com

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