The Day of the Dead, celebrated on November 1-2, is one of the most significant Mexican traditions, where the living prepare to receive their dead and interact with them.
And for the farming companies which are members of our community, this was no exception. They developed activities such as the traditional “altar” and a “catrina” competition. Everybody was involved in these activities, from preschool to high school students of the shelters, as well as company employees.
Del Campo y Asociados
The origin of this tradition goes beyond the arrival of the Spanish conquerors.
For ancient Mexicans, death was the beginning of a journey to Mictlán; that is, the kingdom of the dead or the underworld, and it did not have the moral connotation of the catholic religion, in which the idea of hell or paradise means punishment or reward.
Ancient Mexicans believed that the destiny of the soul of a dead person was determined by the type of death this person had and by their behavior in life.
During pre-Hispanic times, this holiday was celebrated on the 9th month of the solar calendar, which started on August and lasted for 30 days.
With the arrival of the Spain conquerors, the party became mixed and added new catholic elements and meanings. The flower cross is the most significant of these elements.
Below are some items to understand this celebration, considered since 2003 by UNESCO as an Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
1. What is remembered about this holiday in its different days?
This celebration takes place between November 1-2.
On the 1st it is All Saints Day and the 2nd is the Day of the Faithful Departed. The celebration is held through prayer and, in some parts of the country, they spend the night in the graveyard. At the end of the celebration, they eat all the dishes and drinks of the offering.
2. How do families commonly celebrate this holiday?
The “altar” of the dead is a key element in this celebration. It is believed that the spirit of the dead returns from the world of the dead to live with the family that day and to taste the food of the offering.
On a social level, Mexicans express dead in a fun way through small rhymes called “calaveritas” where they mockingly speak about various characters and their death.
3. What is in an “altar” of the dead?
Offerings must contain a series of elements and symbols that invite the spirit to travel from the world of the dead to the world of the living.
4. What is the “Cempasúchil” flower used for?
Cempasúchil is a plant native from Mexico and Central America, used as an ornament in offerings and altars; in addition, it blooms in autumn (near the Day of the Dead).
It is said that its orange and yellow petals mark the path that the dead must follow during the visit they make these days, because this flower is supposed to keep the heat of the sun and their scent calls for them.
5. What other characters can be seen on these dates?
In addition to the dead and the gods, the dog is another common character who, according to tradition, helped the dead in the Mictlán to find their way to their final destination.
In the 20th century, the catrina was added; which is the skull woman created by engraver (*Favor de revisar. En Español está como “grabador”) José Guadalupe Posada, and “alebrijes”, a craft made of cardboard with vibrant colors that represent fantastic animals.