Day Of The Dead

Day of the Dead, otherwise known as Dia de los Muertos, isn’t a one-day, but a multi-day holiday celebrated annually in Mexico on the first two days of November. It’s an ode to the afterlife and a reminder that death is nothing to be afraid of.

Principally a celebration of both life and death in which families commemorate their deceased loved ones, it finds its roots in Mesoamerican culture.

On November 1 (Dia de los Inocentes), deceased children are offered toys and sweets, while November 2 sees ofrendas for deceased adults, such as alcohol, cigarettes and football shirts.

Skulls were a powerful symbol in the Aztec culture, and some were used as tribute to Mictecacihuatl, the Goddess of Death.

Colorful multi-level memorials are built in homes, schools and public places as a tribute to deceased loved ones.

The different levels represent the underworld, Earth and heaven. A large photo of the deceased is usually placed at the very top of the altar with papel picado. Sugar skulls, candles, pan de muerto (dead man’s bread) and Mexican marigolds are featured throughout the altar.

The pungent scent and bright colour of fresh marigold petals are meant to guide the spirits to their altars, and glasses of water are handy to quench the thirst of the dead after their long journey.

The ofrendas (offerings), as the altars are called, are carefully assembled using many traditional elements, but each of them is unique on its own.

A dozen, a hundred, a thousand candles flared until it looked as if the great Andromeda star cluster had fallen out of the sky and tilted itself to rest here in the middle of almost-midnight Mexico.
• Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

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