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Day of the Dead, a Celebration of Life and a Tribute to the Dead

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“For the inhabitant of New York, Paris or London, The Death is a never pronounced word, because it burns your lips. A Mexican, on the other hand, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and his everlasting love. Yes, in its attitude there is as much fear as in the others; however he doesn’t hide or hide it; he contemplates it face to face with patience, disdain or irony” – Octavio Paz

Day of the Dead in Mexico is a day of celebrations, not of mourning. It is said that six of every ten families visit the cemetery and the majority of them eat, drink and sing on the graves of their beloved who have passed away.

The Day of the Dead celebrations commonly take place on the festive days of November 1st and 2nd. On November 1st we honor children and infants; that is why this day is also called “Día de los Inocentes” (Day of the Innocents) or “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the Little Angels); and on November 2nd we honor the deceased adults with the Day of the Dead or “Día de los Muertos”, or “Día de los Difuntos”.

Graves are adorned with flowers, and offerings are made throughout the two day long memorial period, when toys, candles, paper skeletons, and candy skulls are left at the gravesites. In Mexico each element of the altar has a symbolic and specific function: Candles – to guide the dead; Cempasuchitl flower – to symbolize light and glory; “Pan de Muerto” (Traditional sweet bread of Dia de los Muertos) – food and to remember the corporal remains; and Copal – to indicate solemnity and the openness to the mystic world.

On the first day morning mass services are offered to dead children with the ceremony of little angels. After the morning mass, families go to the children’s graves and clean them, removing stray twigs and weeds. The family members participate in a procession to the gravesites and then leave offerings for the dead as they pray, chant, and sing and play music. Unlike the ceremony of the little angels which is for dead children, the ceremony for deceased adults takes place at midnight.

Dances and music are performed before the start of midnight mass. The famous dance of the little old men or “la danza de los viejitos” is performed by children who are dressed up as old men. Incense is burned in order to help guide dead spirits to the offerings that were placed at the gravesites.

We wish you happy celebrations of the Day of the Dead!

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