The Day of the Dead
A little tutorial, if you will indulge me. I myself was ignorant of the fact that the Mexican “Day of the Dead,” Dia de los Muertos, also known as Dia de Muertos, takes place not on November 1st but on November 2nd. See, the Christian Church superimposed its own holiday over a preexisting pagan celebration to create All Saints ‘ Day, which was a day set aside to commemorate the Christian saints. All Saints’ was alternately known as All Hallows’, meaning “all the holy.” (Think “Our father, who art in Heaven, HALLOWED be thy Name…”) The night before All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’, was known as All Hallows’ Evening, which became contracted with time to “Hallow E’en,” which in time became Halloween. Since November 1st was dedicated to honoring the saints, the date of November 2nd was set aside to commemorate all who had died, holy or not. It is called “All Souls’ Day.” In Mexico, it’s alternately, and more commonly, called “The Day of the Dead.”
A lush, vibrant combination of Catholicism with the already present Amerind and imported African culture, Dia de Los Muertos can be both secular and spiritual, a true holy-day. Its celebration has diffused into the completely secular American celebration of Halloween, and I for one am thrilled. That’s why you now see the universal symbol of Dia de Los Muertos, the colorful sugar skull, can now be found in store aisles alongside Halloween costumes and plastic Jack-o-lanterns. Happy Dia de Muertos, peeps!