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day of the dead

Los Dias de Muertos
The Days of the Dead

An ancient aztec holiday made into a catholic tradition honoring our ancestors. Traditionaly, the holiday begins with a celebration for "los angelitos" on October 31st and ends November 2nd with mummers wearing "caretas" (masks) chasing the remaining souls back to the land of the dead.

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Many Latin cultures through out the world celebrate the Days of the Dead on different days. In some places like Oaxaca, it is the 31st through the 2nd, and in other places it will be celebrated between the 1st and the 2nd ( the Catholic "All Saints Day" and "All Souls Day", respectively) and yet in some other places it’s just on November 2nd and called “Dia de los Muertos” (the Day of the Dead).

Some of the festivities include creating altars, painting and cleaning graves, making, offering, and eating delicious food, burning copal incsence and candles, and collecting and arranging marigolds; the flowers of the dead.

Calavaritas Gifts for Dia de los Muertos
Calaveritas Gifts

Durring the Days of the Dead, families make special altars and "Ofrendas" in their homes dedicated to the spirits of their loved ones who have passed over. The altars are filled with offerings that gave joy to the departed person in life. The deceased loved ones favorite toys, foods, drinks, and sugar sculpture known as "alfenique" are common altar pieces.

Alfrenique is usually made in the form of small coffins, animals, plates of food, and the sugar skull or "calavera." Calaveras are decorated with colored icing and shiny paper foil for eyes. Sometimes names are written with icing on the skull and children often exchange these named skulls with their friends.

A famous icon of this holiday is the Dandy skeleton made popular through the works of master lithographer and illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada. Posada's skeletons were of a political nature; characatures of the bougoisie durring the nineteenth century when Porfro Diaz ruled Mexico.

Now, the Dandy skeleton called Catrina or Catrin, for someone who dresses with expensive and sophisticated clothing, has become the visual representation of the Days of the Dead."

Find out more about Dia De Los Muertos and Jose Guadalupe Posada:

Web Site, El Dia De Los Muertos
A book about Posada

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