Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a Mexican celebration with prehispanic and roman catholic origins that is meant to remember and honour, through food, music, decoration and lights, the lives of the loved ones we have lost or of the people who although we never met we admire.
On this day in Mexico, the streets near the cemeteries are filled with decorations of papel picado, flowers, sugar skulls or calaveras, mariachis, music, food and drinks.
In our culture it is believed that the spirit of the dead are allowed to visit their families a certain amount of time, from the 31st of October to the 2nd of November.
In order to celebrate and to welcome their loved ones appropiately, Mexican families make altars and place ofrendas. In this way Mexicans offer their loved ones a 'taste' of the food they used to love during their lifetime as well as some traditional delicacies such as 'Pan de Muerto' and fill the place with candles, incense, yellow marigolds known as cempazuchitl and most importantly a photo of their loved ones to guide them to the the altar.
This is a unique celebration as Mexican culture reacts to death, not with mourning and dark colors, but with happiness and joy by celebrating and giving thanks for the lives of those we loved and for the moments we shared with them when they were alive.
In Mexico 'death' is not something to fear but a natural step which is not to be taken darkly but with humour and as another way to demonstrate our love for life and our acceptance of the temporality of human existance.
Death is apparent in everyday life, in art and in food, in coulours, in our music and artisan work. Death is laughed upon through the character of Catrina and it's many adventures and the tricks she plays to take people through the afterlife.
Death is depicted as a woman, a fancy Catrina, some call her La calaca (skeleton), la pelona (baldy), la flaca (skinny), and la huesuda (bony).
Mexicans also create sayings, and poems exclusively for the day of the dead which talk humorously about death and loss. Sugar and chocolate skulls or Calaveras are also decorated with bright colors and the name of the departed inscribed on the head. Death is a celebration in Mexico, a celebration of life.