Small shrines and altars are often built within the homes of the deceased, where Christian crosses, religious statues, and photos of the Virgin Mary are combined with images of the deceased. Candles are often positioned about the altars. In this article, you will learn more about the different ways people celebrate the Day of the Dead, including some of the food eaten during the holiday.
1) Some family members will dress up in the clothes of the deceased during the Day of the Dead celebrations.
2) The Mexican holiday is seen celebrated within public schools and government offices, which build at least one small altar in honor of the holiday.
3) The skull is a central symbol of the holiday. People wear skull masks during the Day of the Dead. Foods are shaped in the form of the skull, especially treats made out of sugar. The sugar skulls are so popular that they are gifts given to the living, as well as the dead.
4) Another holiday treat during the Day of the Dead is called ‘pan de muerto’ , a sweetened egg bread that is molded into a variety of shapes. Some are simply rounded to represent skulls, while others are shaped into rabbits, decorated with white frosting and designed to resemble contorted bones.
5) In some parts of Mexico, children will slip into costumes and wander about the streets. It is not unheard of for them to ask people they pass by for a small gift of money (called a ‘calaverita’). The children stick to the streets, but do not knock on the doors of their neighborhoods, much different from the custom followed during Halloween in the United States.
6) Some individuals believe that the items associated with the Day of the Dead are thought to bring good luck. Carrying around a “doll of the dead” is one way people attempt to maximize their good fortune.
7) Another tradition of the holiday is to make sure the house is clean, followed by the preparation of the favorite dishes of their dead loved ones. These meals are then placed upon an altar in their honor.
8) People celebrating the Day of the Dead will construct altars in the honor of deceased loved ones, which are decorated flowers, sugar skulls, and candles.
9) Pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”) is made out of candied pumpkins.
10) Flowers play an important role in the celebration of the Day of the Dead, especially Mexican marigolds. It is believed that this type of flower has the power to attract the dead.
11) If you pay attention to a scene in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), you will find an example of the traditional sugar skulls used in the Day of the Dead celebrations. They are sitting on the shelved of the candy store (called Honeydukes), where Harry enters a secret passage.
12) Since the United States is home to many Mexican immigrants, it is common to see Day of the Dead celebrations that mirror the same kind that take place in Mexico. Texas and Arizona usually stick with the traditions of the original holiday. Since 1990, an All Souls’ Procession as taken place in Tucson. Locals wear masks, as they carry signs that pay homage to the dead. An urn is in place for people to put slips of paper with prayers written on them, which are burned at a later time.