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Dia de los Muertos

One of the most cryptic and mystical holidays celebrated around the world, Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead, has become a cultural event that extends beyond the holiday’s original purpose. Dia de los Muertos’ rituals began as many as 2,500 years ago. At the beginning, the holiday started at the first of August and lasted an entire month. Observers focused on the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead.” It’s believed that the modern La Calavera Catrina, featured in artwork today, is derived from the Lady of the Dead legend.

Jumping to modern times, Dia de los Muertos celebrations take place yearly from October 31 to November 2, coinciding with Roman Catholic observance of All Hallows’ Eve, Hallowmas, and All Souls’ Day.

Strict observers of the holiday build private altars called ofrendas, decorate with marigolds, and use Sugar Skulls in different manners. Favorite foods, drinks and possessions are often left at the graves of loved ones.

Dia de los Muertos Decorated Altar (photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

Dia de los Muertos Decorated Altar (photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

At Chupamacabre, we love Dia de los Muertos because of the holiday’s unique culture, significance, and mystical qualities. We believe the holiday and sugar skulls spur the creation of some of the world’s best and most creative artwork. It’s our hope we can bring some unique Day of the Dead merchandise to you.

An Event With Worldwide Appeal

Dia de los Muertos really gained traction as a holiday of Southern and Central Mexico, not stretching to Northern Mexico due to some religious perceptions that the pagan elements of the holiday shouldn’t mingle with Roman Catholicism. In the 1960s, the Mexican government made Dia de los Muertos a national holiday, attempting to use it as a unifying holiday for the country.

In the 21st Century, the internet and globalization has pushed Dia de los Muertos into new regions of the world while also highlighting similar celebrations that occur around the world.

Here’s a look at how different countries and regions celebrate the holiday:

United States

Naturally, the United States has similar celebrations to Mexico. In states that border Mexico, these celebrations are often large and elaborate. Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California each of nationally recognized Day of the Dead celebrations that draw in tourists. 

In Tucson, Arizona, an annual All Souls Processional began in 1990. San Diego’s Old Town is home to a two-day celebration that ends at El Campo Santo Cemetery. Other cities that are popular spots for unique events with touches of Dia de los Muertos elements include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Missoula (Montana), Boston, El Paso, and Washington D.C.

A Dia de los Muertos celebration in Carlsbad, CA

A Dia de los Muertos celebration in Carlsbad, CA (photo courtesy of Flickr/@danorth1)

Brazil

In Brazil, the public holiday called Findados (Day of the Dead) takes place on November 2nd. On this day, the public goes to cemeteries with remembrances. The celebrations are positive and have deep roots in Catholic origins.

Guatemala 

Whereas some cultures construct giant skulls, Guatemalan celebrations for Day of the Dead include the flying of huge kites.

Haiti

Haitians mix voodoo traditions with religious ones, using loud music at cemeteries to wake Baron Samedi, “the Loa of the Dead.” 

The Philippines

All Saints’ Day celebrations in the Philippines are one of the key holidays when the public travel to their respective hometowns or family spots. Next to Christmas and Easter, the holiday is one of the largest of the year for celebrations.

Europe

With a large Roman Catholic influence, various countries participate in All Saints Day and All Souls Day. In many countries, family members light candles and visit the graves of the deceased. Other countries take flowers to graves and do some Trick or Treating with children. The Czech Republic goes a bit further – holding a Mexican-style Day of the Dead party at the Mexican Embassy each year.