Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos)
To an outsider, this may sound absurd but for those who abide by the traditions and the Mexican way of life, such is a day that they eagerly wait for. To them, it is a date with their loved ones who have since departed. They adorn themselves with beautiful garments and some buy expensive gifts for the deceased souls. The celebrations take place each year on November 2nd, which coincides with the Catholic holiday popularly known as the All Saints day.
History - The origin of the day of the dead dates back hundreds of years ago when some parts of Great Britain and Northern France were ruled by Gaul's and Celts. It is also attributed to the Aztec festival which was dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. At first, it was a tradition that was unacceptable by the Christians but it has since gained popularity in many parts of the world. It is also a public holiday in Mexico so that family and friends can have quality time with the deceased.
It is believed that the spirits of the deceased adults are set free on that particular day so that they can enjoin with their loved ones. Prior to the day of the dead, they also get to honor and celebrate the deceased kids on November 1st, which also coincides with the Catholic's All Souls day.
A celebration takes place on the day of the dead and according to the celebrants, it takes a lot of time and resources to ensure they honor the deceased loved ones so that they in return, are gifted with wisdom, protection and good luck. In most homes, altars are made and decorated with buckets of flowers, candles, bread, drinks and the deceased favorite meals or beverages.
The elements of nature which are water, wind, fire and earth are also represented on the altar to make the spirits feel comfortable.
The festivities are then taken to the graveyards in the afternoon where people dance, listen to the spirits of the deceased and reminisce about the moments spent together. It is also a day to clean the tombs and plant or tender to the flowers.
Some people don't understand the difference between day of the dead and Halloween which takes place on October 31st. The day of the dead is all about honoring and welcoming the dead back to the earth with some candy skulls placed on the altars, Halloween on the other hand is celebrated to mark the end of summer and harvest by the Celts. In modern times it's a night were people carve pumpkins, go out trick-or-treating and dress up in Halloween costumes.