Thursday, October 27, 2011

El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

The following is an excerpt from Carrasco, Davíd and Scott Sessions. "El Día de los Muertos 2011: Background." The American Mosaic: The Latino American Experience. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 25 Oct. 2011:

One of the most meaningful yearly celebrations in Mexico, in fact throughout Latin America, is El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), celebrated for nearly a week at the end of October and the beginning of November. This elaborate celebration, dedicated to the cult of the dead (also referred to as Todos Santos—All Saints' Day), combines pre-Columbian rituals and beliefs with Catholic practices and symbols. Although Day of the Dead rituals are complex and difficult to categorize, the central idea is that during this period of public and private (family) rituals, the living and dead family members and friends are joined together in an atmosphere of communion and spiritual regeneration.
Important elements of Day of the Dead festivities in Central Mexico were practiced by Aztecs and have become integrated into the Catholic traditions of Mexico and other parts of Latin America. This same pattern of images of the dead, altar, food offerings, incense, and communion is carried out today. It is important to note that the rituals, symbols, and elaborate decorations of home altars and cemeteries differ somewhat according to region. Some communities emphasize cemetery altars and decorations, whereas others emphasize the processions between home and cemetery. Still others make unusual efforts to decorate their home altars to dead ancestors in baroque, lavish ways. But all Day of the Dead celebrations focus on a spiritual covenant between the human community and supernatural entities of deceased family members, friends, or saints. What is outstanding in all cases is the belief that what happens during one's life here on this earth is dependent, in part, on treating the dead well. People believe that if the dead are not worshipped, nurtured, and remembered in the proper manner, their own economic security, family stability, and health will be in jeopardy. Therefore, careful and generous preparations are carried out.

Discover more on the history and traditions of El Dia de los Muertos—from its roots in both pre-Columbian and Christian rituals to contemporary forms of celebration in Latin America and the United States—by checking out the full Feature Story on the Latino American Experience. If you are not already a subscriber, click here for a free trial.

Additional Resources

Daily Life of the Aztecs, Second Edition
Davíd Carrasco and Scott Sessions
Greenwood, 2011

Examine the fascinating details of the daily lives of the ancient Aztecs through this innovative study of their social history, culture, and continuing influence, written from the perspective of the history of religions.

Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture
Cordelia Chávez Candelaria, Arturo J. Aldama and Peter J. García
Greenwood, 2004

This 2-volume set is the first to encapsulate the breadth of Latina/Latino popular culture and its impact on the wider American culture.

Dictionary Of Chicano Folklore
Rafaela G. Castro
ABC-CLIO, 2000

Dictionary of Chicano Folklore charts the rich religious, social, artistic, and cultural heritage of Mexican Americans, who continue to evolve the customs and rituals connected to their Spanish and indigenous roots and the Spanish language.

No comments:

Post a Comment