|Catrinas, most popular image of the Mexican
celebration of the Day of the Dead.
With the approach of All Saints Day and All Soul’s Day, there is an interesting blend of ancient cultural tradition and Catholic spirituality called the Day of the Dead.
The Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. It is also celebrated in the Philippines through local cultural traditions different than those in Mexico. The Xaverian Missionaries work in both Mexico and the Philippines. The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.
What Is It?
The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.
|Families tidying and decorating graves at a cemetery in
Almoloya del Río in the State of Mexico
The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to its indigenous pagan cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era, skulls were commonly kept as trophies and displayed during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern Catrina.
Remaining Close to our Departed Loved Ones and Friends
|Altar for the Day of the Dead for a young lady murdered
by her boyfriend in Atlanta
I remember in the Philippines that all tvs, radios were turned off. There was an almost eerie quiet and at dusk candles for loved ones who passed away were lit and put in the front of houses. Looking over the streets, dotted lights representing the prayers for the dead. All Soul’s Day is a wonderful occasion to remain close to all we love and those we do not know in the power of prayer. We help them with our prayers and the love that touches the heavens. Light a candle for them.
For a hi tech approach to the Day of the Dead in the Philippines, check this out.