November has arrived and Halloween has passed, but for the people of Mexico, the celebration hasn’t ended.
Saturday is All Souls’ Day, “El Dia de los Muertos,” which when translated means “The Day of the Dead.”
The three-day holiday is one of the biggest celebrations in Mexico.
The purpose of the holiday is “to pay homage to the past,” said Yolanda Trevino, program coordinator for the University Resources for Latinos.
“It is a celebration to remember the ones who have passed on,” she said.
All Souls’ Day traditions are a bit different from the ghosts and goblins that characterize Halloween.
“It is not a time to be scared. It is a lighthearted and fun time … a time to remember relatives, not a time to be terrified,” Trevino said.
In Mexico, dying does not mean losing touch with life. They believe the living still love and thoughtfully remember the dead, and in turn, the dead still care for and long to be near the living.
There is a lot of preparation in order to please the arriving souls. On Oct. 31, women all over Mexico clean house, create elaborate candles and treats in the shapes of caskets, bones, skeletons and skulls, and prepare lots of traditional Mexican food, such as tortillas, pastries and sugarcoated bread loaves in the shapes of animals.
At nightfall on Nov. 1, All Souls’ Eve, a more subdued tone takes over. Cemeteries are decorated in preparation for the coming of the souls.
The people of Mexico engage in all kinds of activities in order to bring the living and the dead closer together.
In some places, mariachi bands play, carnival rides are enjoyed and banners are hung throughout the town.
In many homes on All Souls’ Eve, priests visit to bless the altars and hold prayer times.
Neighbors stop by to have a drink and remember the family’s deceased, and the dead are said to be able to hear the discussions taking place because their souls are within the homes.
Pictures and photographs of the departed are everywhere in the city, in the cemeteries and in the homes.
The actual Day of the Dead, Nov. 2, is spent resting. Families hold a procession to the cemeteries that night, bringing with them picnic lunches, candles, food and drinks.
Guitars are strummed, flowers are laid at the cemetery and the breads and skulls which were made for the celebration become treats and playthings for the children.
Toward the end of the celebration, the people return to their homes content that the dead are resting peacefully once again.