Día de los Muertos: The Saddest and Happiest Day of the Year

The Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, where the veil between the two worlds is down.

Photo by Mario Mendez on Unsplash

Stephanie Perez ’24 | scperez@radford.edu 

The True Día De Los Muertos

Almost everyone who has watched Coco or Book of Life knows about the famous: Día De Los Muertos. The translation is called the Day of the Dead.

The Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, where the veil between the two worlds is down. The holiday is a two-day festival to honor those who have passed, and this Day is special because It is one night a year where the dead can come to the world.

Day of the Dead happens typically after October 31st, starts on November 1st, and ends on November 2nd.

It is a day where people will paint skulls on their faces and where the dead can come back to the Earth. From research, the heads represented a deceased loved one or represented themselves.

From experiences, the skulls represent life. It is ironic because the person is portrayed as dead to walk along with their loved ones.

The streets are colorful in Calaveras (skulls) and Calacas (skeletons), making the roads look so vibrant and full of colors. Candles light up every inch of the town, the candle that represents life for those who passed.

What makes it more enchanting is that every color in the Festival has a meaning: Yellow is Sun of Unity, White is Spirit, Hope, and Purity, Red is Blood and Life, Purple is Morning, Grieving, and Suffering, Pink is Bubbly and Happiness.

Ofrendas, or shines, are covered from head to toe with food, such as sugar cookie skulls. With bread, Pan de Muertos, a family member places one out for each deceased loved one.

Marigolds are the petals that guide the spirits of loved ones to the celebration. It is seen everywhere on the streets, on family graves, and their Ofrendas.

As Catholics have Hell and Heaven, the Day there is The Land of the Forgotten and The Land of Remembered.

The Land of Forgotten is where all the poor souls are genuinely gone and cannot return to Earth. It means that no one remembers or retells their story during this Day.

The Land of Remembered is the land where endless festivals for all those whose stories and memories leave on in the hearts of their loved ones.

Remembering Your Family

There should be an Ofrendas, or a shrine, with the whole deceased family’s picture in the person’s house. Then, the family lights a candle for each family and hands them Pan de Muertos, bread.

There should be enough Pan de Muertos for each family member, deceased or alive. Then, as there are Ofrendas for them, the family will go to their grave and eat there.

In a way, it is a picnic with your whole family. It is heartwarming because this is when everyone tells the stories of their loved ones.

Sometimes while eating bread and sitting real still, people can feel the energy around them. Sometimes a candle will flicker, telling everyone that their loved ones have arrived.

The family members always have a plate full of food set out for them, like eating with their family. The part is the parade in the background has both dancers and musicians.

While the family eats their Pan de Muertos with their family, they talk about those who passed. Their life stories and how they lived, and the lesson they have passed down.

As time goes on, children will tell stories they have heard their lives to their children and add to their stories of their families member who has passed.

As it is a time to reflect, it welcomes so much love and happiness. As it is not like any other day, it’s happy for everyone in your life—from the past to the future.