When many think of Day of the Dead they might picture the George Romero Zombie flick but in actuality it is one of the most celebrated holidays is Mexico.
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.
Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. It was moved to October 31, November 1 and November 2 to coincide with the Roman Catholic triduum festival of Allhallowtide: All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.
Scholars have traced the origins of the holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years. The holiday has become popular all throughout the world, becomimg one with other deep traditions for honoring the dead. The festival that developed into the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina.
By the late 20th century in most regions of Mexico, the practices had developed to honor dead children and infants on November 1(Día de los Inocentes) (“Day of the Innocents”) but also as Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”), and to honor deceased adults on November 2 (Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos)(“Day of the Dead”).