Dia de los Muertos honors late family members

Festive altars and food are made to welcome visiting relatives who have passed.


Castorena-Padilla family

The Castorena-Padilla family set up an altar at their house. The ofrenda was made for the many family members that have passed away.

Livia Lowe, science editor

Day of the dead, or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated on the first and second day of November. Over these couple of days, families come together to honor their dead family members by creating memorials and serving up feasts.
To honor family members that have passed, altars called ofrendas are created and filled with candles, pictures, and food offerings to commemorate the dead.
“Día de los Muertos is important to my family and I because it’s a happy way of remembering the people we love and honoring them with happiness instead of sadness,” said Crystal Beltran, a senior.
Thousands of people every year attend events celebrating Day of the Dead. Many Latin American countries are seen annually celebrating Day of the Dead in their own distinct ways. Nevertheless, one common practice that usually occurs during the celebration is the cooking of food.
“Last year my mom and I dressed up as La Catrina and El Calavero and invited family members over for dinner,” said Roger Vasquez, a senior.
Food plays an important part in this holiday as it is used partly as offerings for family members. Food offerings are made to entice those who have passed on to come back for a visit. A standard ofrenda is sugar skulls. A sugar skull, also known as a Calavera, is an edible representation of a skull that is traditionally made out of sugar. Sugar cookies decorated as skulls are also popular treats found during Day of the Dead. More traditional Mexican dishes that are made are tamales, atole, as well as menudo. One of the many dishes is called Potato Pan de Muerto, it is a form of sweet bread.
“We will sometimes eat the person’s favorite food so that it can range and depend on how many people will come over,” said Beltran, a senior.
Another common practice is the production of marigold infused foods and drinks. Marigold is believed to lure souls back from the dead to the land of the living with its vibrant colors and powerful scents. Symbolism is a major factor during Day of the Dead and that is because of its extensive history.
Día de los Muertos isn’t a modern tradition, it has been celebrated for thousands of years.
Día de los Muertos was first celebrated 3,000 years ago. Originally, the Aztecs had a festival dedicated to the Goddess named Mictecacihuatl. The Spanish conquistadores were Catholic and did not agree with the Aztecs practices so they attempted to eradicate all the indigenous beliefs. Ultimately, the Aztecs resisted the influence of the church and compromised by intertwining both cultures. This resulted in the creation of All Saints’ Day.