Face paint, masks, skulls and skeletons are just a few words to describe El Dia de Los Muertos, or otherwise known as Day of the Dead, typically celebrated by Hispanics (along with other cultures around the world) on November 1st.
The Humanities Department at Cal State Fullerton held a special event; giving students the opportunity to experience what the Day of the Dead was really like. From Aztec dancing to Mariachi to hand-made bracelets to the amazing food, they had it all, even an amazing alter. For some students this was a new form of culture exposure, they got to first hand experience what someone of the Hispanic culture would do to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Overall, the short time that I was at the event, the crowd was extremely cheerful and filled with joy, it was a good time.
It's was day to pay respect to those who have kicked the bucket, who said death had to be sad? Although many cultures celebrate The Day of the Dead, let's take a close look at how Mexicans celebrate such a holiday. For those who don't know, the holiday focuses on family and friends coming together to pray and remembering those family member and/or friends who have passed away. In Mexico, it's considered a national holiday; all banks and government services are closed. The Day of the Dead is connected with Catholic holidays such as All Saints Day and All Souls' Day.
According to old tradition, individuals come together and build private altars (usually in a home or a church) honoring the deceased. The altars are decorated with sugar, skulls, and the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased. If the alter is not built, the family usually visits the grave and drops off the gifts along with possessions the deceased person left behind. Families go to cemeteries to be with the soul of the departed one, typically they take pictures and important memorabilia of the deceased.
The purpose of the alter and memorabilia is said that it will encourage the souls to come by and visit since they will hear the prayers and memory-sharing said by the family. These celebrations are usually very joyful; it's not a time to be sad, but a time to remember the good memories with the departed one. Flowers, usually the colors of red, orange and yellow are a big thing when it comes to the decorating of the alter.
The Mexican holiday is traced back to indigenous observances, which date back hundreds of years ago to an Aztec festival dedicated to Mictecacihuatl, an Aztec goddess.