Day Of The Dead Celebration Is Anything But DEAD!


Ayelen Pichardo Hernandez, Staff Writer

The Day of the Dead celebration is anything but…dead.

The Day of the Dead or El Dia de los Muertos has been celebrated for roughly 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in Mexican tradition. It is a holy day that honors all those who have passed on–especially family members. It is celebrated from Oct. 31st (all Hallow’s Eve) to Nov.2 (All Soul’s Day). A mix of Catholic traditions and Aztec rituals is used to honor the deceased, recognizing death as part of human experience. However, it is not a day of mourning; it is meant to be a cheerful time of celebration for everyone.

There are many traditions that are a part of this holiday–a very important one being the ofrendas. Ofrendas are homemade altars that hold offerings for deceased loved ones. They are typically placed in the home of a deceased loved one. The ofrendas are filled with the person’s favorite foods, photos, personal items, and religious objects. Pan dulce–or sweet bread–is a common staple of these ofrendas. It is baked and formed into many different types of figures for the family members to enjoy. Fake skulls are decorated to adorn the ofrendas,  as well as papel picado (cut up tissue paper). Flowers are also used to decorate these ofrendas, the most popular of these being marigold flowers. These flowers symbolize the brevity of life. Some people use the marigold petals to form a path that leads to their ofrenda. This is so the spirit of their deceased loved ones can find their way to their offerings. 

In recent years, The Day of the Dead celebration has become more commercialized in other parts of the world. It is important to remember that it is a part of Mexican culture and not just a random opportunity to make cookies or host themed parties. During this time of year, people respectfully put on skull makeup to look like La Catrina. La Catrina is an elegantly dressed skeleton that is a very recognized symbol of El Dia de los Muertos.

Elkhart High School Junior Yadhira Diaz says, “People who don’t celebrate El Dia de los Muertos shouldn’t be using skull makeup for Halloween. It is not a costume; it is a part of a culture celebrating dead loved ones!” Pausing, she solemnly adds, “The death of a loved one is not funny.”

Many people agree and think La Catrina makeup should be left to those who celebrate The Day of the Dead, but some don’t think it is cultural appropriation. What is clear is that this is a unique holiday that highlights the importance of living one’s life while he or she still can.