How is Dia de Los Muertos celebrated?

More stories from Jian Wang

Although many may recognize the name “Dia de Los Muertos”, it is unlikely that many who recognize it are able to describe what it celebrates. Contrary to what many believe, the Day of the Dead is not Mexican Halloween; whereas during Halloween one could watch scary movies or eat caramel apples, the Day of the Dead is a day to celebrate our ancestors and honor the lives that they led.

The Day of the Dead is a predominantly Mexican Holiday, and it takes place from the first to the second of November. It’s postulated that the origins of the Day of the Dead come from the ancient Mayans and their ways of honoring those who have moved on and remembering the lives that they led. But, as for many holidays and celebrations, there are many unique and often delicious ways of celebrating this day that involve bright colors, special food, marigolds, and ofrendas filled with food and memories. Parties and parades during the day of the dead are filled with color and life, there are waves of papel picado, candy skulls made from sugar and pan de muerto, mole, and incense to fill the air.

I usually make food and prepare the family ofrenda with my mother during the Day of the Dead. It’s uncommon that I leave my house on the day of the dead because it’s supposed to be a day spent with family and honoring them as well. The Day of the Dead is more analogous to American Thanksgiving than it is to Halloween because it is a day of family reunions, good food, and time spent in good company. The Day of the Dead is an important holiday in central-American culture and it is celebrated in many different ways but all of them celebrate the bright and impactful lives of our ancestors.