The Day of the Dead: A Brief Introduction

El día de los muertos: (a brief introduction)

The Day of the Dead celebration traces its origins back to Ancient civilizations living in Northern Mesoamerica. It depicts Mexican's special relationship with those who have left this life. Mexicans assume dying as one more misfortune but regard it as the ultimate liberation. This attitude stems from the millenary Nahuatl-speaking people, who viewed skeletons and other artifacts as symbolizing life. The Day of the Dead in Mexico has become an annual national holiday whose importance and festivities are unmatched.

Four days before and after the Day of the Dead (November 2), death is present everywhere in Mexico. It leers invitingly from bakery windows displaying "panes de muertos." (bread of the dead). Candy stores prepare wonderful sugar skulls with peoples' names printed in the icing. Friends and loved ones exchanged them as gifts. Newspapers publish satirical verses called "Calaveras" (skulls), praising or criticizing famous people. Many cities stage Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla. The dead's relatives clean the graves and decorate them with natural and paper flowers, food dishes, and candles.