by Citlali Moreno
Photo courtesy of Mya Trejo
Halloween may represent horror, with spooky skeleton decorations and pumpkin carvings, but for the Latin American culture, it signifies more.
Designing skulls and creating altars are traditions of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, a three-day Mexican holiday born from Aztec culture and Catholicism. It is like a family gathering to honor deceased ancestors who have awakened from their eternal sleep.
“Members of the decease family would usually gather together to grieve and revel in the return of one of their own. Whether, it’s true or not, they still believe that their loved one will be there. It’s a good way for bonding and getting closer as a family,” said sophomore Julian Soriano.
Assuming that spirits of the loved ones would be acknowledged with somberness and sadness, Dia de los Muertos exults in the lives of the deceased by placing food and objects the deceased once enjoyed at the altar, a table used to focus on a religious ritual. However, on this day it resembles a shrine which can carry pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, which is topped with sugar and designed with bone shapes, that will allow the deceased to dance on their altars.
“The altar consists of pictures, favorite dish, special items and lit candles that the deceased once loved. It has a huge impact on me because as a family we all take time to think and cherish about those who we’ve lost and together we tell stories and pray,” said Michelle Morales, sophomore.
Not only do families celebrate their loved ones, some also dress up. The most common way is to decorate one’s face to resemble a skull or calacas. It might seem strange but unlike Halloween, this holiday grants the skull to have a positive meaning to symbolize the enjoyment of life. The Aztecs believed life on earth was an illusion and death was a positive step forward into high levels of consciousness.
“I honestly am happy this day is a holiday. To me this day means family and family is the more important than anything in the world even though some people may disagree with me. It allows people to grieve in a healthy and happy way, and sometimes I also paint my face,” said senior, Ivanna Avila.
Celebrated from Halloween Oct. 31, carrying through All Saints Day, Nov.1, and ending on All Souls Day, Nov. 2, each year, Dia de los Muertos is a fun Mexican tradition that not only remembers the dead but also spreads happiness to everyone who participates.