Is Día de Los Muertos a Mexican Halloween?

Now what is Day Of The Dead all about?


Decorating the ofrenda with my family for Dia de Los Muertos. (Photo Courtesy of Adalie Landa)

Adalie Landa, Staff Writer

Although it involves skeletons and dressing up as one, it is not the main purpose of Dia de Los Muertos. Dia de Los Muertos is a day to celebrate those who have passed away. This event occurs on November 1 for the innocents such as children. November 2 is for adults, and the most known day for people who do not celebrate it. Every year families gather around the graveyard of their ancestors and decorate them with food and items that had represented them. Even some of their favorite foods are placed on plates by their graveyard. If, for example, a family member was a musician, the family would put down a guitar or a modeled version. If the graveyard that your family member was buried at is too far away, families make altars called ofrendas in their homes and do the same things. Families put pictures of the lost ones so they can find their way to the altar and place candles to welcome them to the living world. 

Altars have at least 2 or more layers that not only represent the generations but can also symbolize the saints. Chicago Tribune states that the top level of the altar is where the gods and saints are paid respects, the middle level where they lived and some items that they enjoyed, and the bottom level represents the world of the dead. The most commonly used flowers used for altars is called the Cempasuchil and is also used to guide the dead to the living world, as shown in the movie Coco. Now, people dress up as skeletons to represent the Aztec culture in where they would carve different carvings into human skulls after sacrificial rituals. The skulls symbolize the celebration and colors in the Mectlán, the spirit world.  My family and I celebrate this event at home and create an altar every year that represents my ancestors and the things that they had enjoyed while living. On the ofrenda, we include “calaveras” which are sugar skulls that represent my ancestors. In our case, each sugar skull has the name of the family member who has passed on. Lastly, the most commonly used item for altars and festivals is papel picado, a delicate tissue paper that tells a story related to the family. Abc News states that on papel picado “purple is said to be the color of mourning and the color yellow signifies purity”. Therefore, no matter what color you use, papel picado, calaveras, and cempasuchil are used for our altars every year to remember those who have passed on into the spirit world for eternity.