Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is being celebrated throughout Mexico on 1st and 2nd November. We often associate Day of the Dead with beautifully painted sugar skulls which often make an appearance during Halloween but what does Day of the Dead really represents? Here's top 10 things to know about this celebration of love.
1. Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahual people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful.
2. Day of the Dead is celebrated for the love and respect for deceased family members.
3. Parties and parades are held throughout Mexico where people dance, sing and celebrate the lives of their deceased family members.
4. Altars are being set up at home with photos of the deceased with offerings. It usually include water in the pitcher for the spirit to quench their thirst, Papel picado (traditional colourful paper banners), bread and candles for the spirit to find their way home.
5. Marigolds are the main flowers used during the celebration. Used to decorate the altar and gravesite, the flower has a uniquely strong smell that is believed to attract spirits. It is also believed that marigold petals guide wandering souls back to their place of rest.
6. Sugar skulls
Sugar skulls represents a departed soul, the name of the departed are written on the forehead of the sugar skull and placed on the altar at home or gravestone to honour the return of the spirit. Smaller skulls are placed on the altar on 1 November to represent the children who has deceased and then replaced by a bigger skull on 2 November to represent the deceased adults.
7. Pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, is a typical sweet bread, decorated with bones and skulls made from dough. The bones are arranged in a circle, as in the circle of life. Tiny dough teardrops symbolise sorrow.
8. During Day of the Dead, people of all ages don fancy suits and dresses, have their faces beautifully painted to resemble Catrin and Catrina.
9. Xoloitzcuintli or better known as Xolos or the hairless Mexican dog, are often included in the celebration of Day of the Dead because it is believed that they serve as spirit guides to guide the dead back to the underworld.
10. Day of the dead is recognised by UNESCO since 2008.