Day of the Dead Give – It’s All About Family
During Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos) festivities, food is both eaten by living people and given to the spirits of their departed ancestors as “offerings.” It is mostly celebrated in southern and central Mexico. During the festival, people gather to pray to help those who have departed on their spiritual paths. The festival usually lasts two days. During this time, families and communities get together to hold vigils and parties to honour those they’ve lost. Altars are decorated to celebrate those who have died, usually decorating the altars with the dead’s favourite foods or personal items, hoping that the loved ones will be blessed by spirits. The celebration is somewhat of a carnival, because those who celebrate the Day of the Dead, believe that death is a continuation of the life cycle, and not something to be sad about but rather to celebrate as the deceased is moving on in the next phase of the life cycle.
How Does Someone Give Back on the Day of the Dead?
- Make an altar for the deceased – the altar is decorated with the deceased person’s favourite food and favourite items from when they were living. Flowers and other bright and happy items can be added. People can add a cross if they so wish. Then the family sits around the altar and tells stories and talks about fond memories about the deceased person. It’s a happy time, for telling funny and happy stories of the person when he/she was alive.
- Visit the graves of loved ones – people will visit their deceased loved one’s graves, and spend time cleaning them up, placing some flowers on the gravesite, spending time praying or talking to the deceased member at the gravesite. Some people even spend the whole night eating, drinking, laughing, playing cards, etc.
- Set out pillows and blankets in the home – people celebrating Día de los Muertos place a pillow and blanket for each of their deceased loved ones in their home, so that the spirits of the dead can rest after their journey.Tthey are believed to visit the loved ones during this time.
- Play music – music that reminds the family of the loved one – music that the deceased member would listen to, and that the deceased member would dance to, etc. Sometimes, family members will dance around the grave yard, playing music, dancing, playing instruments and having a parade.
- Make a special dinner – with place settings for each of the deceased family members that you would like to honour and make sure to make that person’s favourite dish for the dinner. Invite other family members to come and celebrate the deceased members and tell stories, and enjoy talking about the deceased member to honour them.
Day of the Dead is all about family. This is a festival or a time to celebrate deceased family members. It is not supposed to be a scary or sad time, but rather a festive, happy time to honour and remember those deceased family members who have gone to another place. Those who celebrate Day of the Dead believe that it’s supposed to be a time of partying, respectfully, and remembering the good times with the deceased when they were alive. There are many different things that one can do to give back to the deceased in their lives, as you can see.
Have you ever celebrated or know of anyone that has celebrated Day of the Dead festivities? Share your perception or your experiences or the experiences of friends and family who have participated in festivities for the Day of the Dead. What did you do? What did your friends or family do to honour a deceased member?