El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday based on ancient Mexican traditions of honoring and celebrating departed loved ones. The three day celebration takes place between October 31 – November 2, there are numerous festivities during the period, and families usually visit the cemetery to decorate the graves of their ancestors and place offerings of food, flowers, and other symbolic gifts.
Day of the Dead is not the Mexican version of Halloween, so there isn’t any trick or treating or scary costumes. The holiday is a cultural event that brings families together to remember the deceased, and people who observe the festival believe that the souls of lost children and adults come down from heaven to reunite with the living during El Día de los Muertos. Some family members stay up all night in the cemetery celebrating loved ones who have passed on, while others hold private gatherings in the home.
The Importance of Remembrance
The Day of the Dead has been observed for hundreds of years in Mexico and other parts of the world, illustrating the enduring tradition of remembering the dead. The holiday normalizes the fact that everyone dies and death is not something to be feared. The celebratory atmosphere of the festival also encourages people to talk openly about life and death with their family members and share cultural beliefs with future generations.
This positive outlook on death and dying is slowly gaining headway in the US. As changing personal preferences affect demand for traditional funerals, many families are choosing to honor their loved ones in new and creative ways. Celebration of life services, cremation memorial ceremonies, and ash scattering events are becoming more popular as Americans come to terms with end of life in the modern society.
The Grief Journey
El Día de los Muertos is a happy time but there can also be an undertone of sadness for those in mourning. The holiday highlights the importance of celebrating the dearly departed even during times of grief. The jovial festivities that welcome the dead back to the living can help people actively cope with their grief.
Grief is a uniquely personal experience and we all grieve in our own way, so it may be difficult to join in a celebration if you are feeling sad. But the traditional memorial events of El Día de los Muertos allow people in mourning to still maintain a relationship with their loved ones. Relationships between people don’t end when someone dies, and the Day of the Dead provides an opportunity to reflect on the life of a loved one and celebrate them even if you are still grieving.
The celebration period of El Día de los Muertos takes place over three days, but you can still honor a deceased family member or special friend during other days of the year. Here are some ideas on how to face significant anniversaries after the death of a loved one.Back to Knowledge Center