Celebrating Life, not Death

December 3, 2017

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Latin American tradition, and is dedicated to the gathering of family and friends to remember those who have passed.

It is celebrated all over the world in countries such as Mexico, where it originated, Guatemala, Brazil, Spain, and the United States.

The holiday’s origins stem from the belief that the dead would be upset if their families were to mourn over them.

Also, the holiday is seen as a time to celebrate life rather than be dismal over death.

To celebrate, people do activities such as putting up altars or shrines that are adorned with candles, sugar skulls, and marigolds, as well as visiting the graves of the dead.

The origins of this holiday are connected to indigenous American cultures, specifically the Aztecs.

Popular symbols of the holiday are calacas/calaveras or skeletons and skulls, which are also seen here in the United States during Halloween.

Many people often associate Día de los Muertos with Halloween, but in reality these holidays have many important differences.

Halloween, or All Hallows’ Evening, began with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a festival used to mark the conclusion of the harvest season and the start of winter.

Today, Halloween is celebrated with jack-o-lanterns, candy, and costumes.

Although these holidays are connected through skeletons and time frame, they each have their own distinct background and importance.

The impacts of Día de los Muertos are seen from as far as across the world, to as close as our own campus.  

PVHS Senior, Arianna Proul said, “Certain parts of Mexico celebrate it  [Día de los Muertos] more than where my family lives, but it’s still very important to Mexican culture and giving respect to important people in your life.”

Thus, as Día de los Muertos passes, it is important to reflect on the cultural significance of this particular holiday, and appreciate the history behind it.

In addition, from Día de los Muertos we can learn how one culture is unique, and apply this knowledge to realize how the values and beliefs of cultures around the world make them different and special in their own way.

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