Our great friends at Betway have put together fantastic piece recently on the number of spooky and macabre festivals which exist around the world, the infographic of which we have attached below. This great piece got us thinking about one particular festival which is a favorite of ours, and that is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This festival is held every year across Mexico and in some southern US states.
As with many festivals, once they are taken beyond the borders of the country of their creation, things can often get mixed up a little, so today we are going to take a look at what this festival is like in Mexico itself.
At the heart of this celebration are these incredible altars which are designed to help the spirit of the deceased on their journey after death. These are stepped altars which feature bright colors and symbolic items to support the journey. An altar will also feature an image of the deceased, along with some of their favorite items. These can be found through the country and they look very impressive.
This is an event which both celebrates and commemorates the dead. This is not a somber event and that is why you will see a great deal of bright colors being used. These colors are found on altars and in the costumes that are worn by those taking part.
There are certainly moments across the three days of the festival which are somber and which are for remembering the dead. There are also moments of celebration and this comes with a certain comedic aspect. For example the skeletons are often dressed up in formal attire, holding bottles of alcohol or musical instruments. These small touches indicate that the festival is very conscious of remembering the dead, good and bad, and it is as much a celebration of life as anything else.
Sweet treats are often made at this time of year, and they serve a number of purposes. Most altars have sweet skulls on them, made from sugar and with the name of the deceased etched into them. We also see bread of the dead, or pan de muertos, eaten at this time of year, this is a sweet bread, adorned with sugar, which resembled a pile of bones. The bread is enjoyed with hot chocolate and marks the season of Day of the Dead.
Bridging The Gap
As mentioned, this is a festival which is as much about celebration as it is taking time out to remember the lives and the passing of the deceased. This is something which is clearly apparent and as each day of the festival passes, there are those moments of joy and celebration, with food and drinks, then there are moments of quiet, observing the altar and thinking about what it means, this festival certainly bridges the gap between the two feelings.
Which of the three would you like to visit if you could?