Reckless holiday, pervasive fun and thousands of the walking dead flooded the city. Surprising, isn’t it? It happens when Mexico celebrates Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), according to Wikipedia. Everything is turned upside down. The night becomes the day, the cemetery becomes the most popular place in the city, people are dressed like dead and the dead come to life.
Historically, in Mexico it is a very different attitude to death than we got used to. Death for them is not the end but a continuation of life in another world. Dead are not commemorated, but greeted with joy. After all, this is the only day when loved ones, who have left this world, can visit them.
Celebration of the Day of the Dead goes back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayas in its traditions. Their system of beliefs has been strongly associated with the rituals of death and resurrection. Even before the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, the Aztecs kept skulls of relatives at home and used them in symbolic ceremonies. In summer, during the month it was arranged an orgy, which consisted of series of bloody sacrifices, thus paying homage to the dead, afterlife and its patron - the goddess Mictecacihuatl.
The first conquerors of Mexico thought that Aztecs were mocking death in their rites. These rituals were considered sacrilegious. The indigenous people of Central America was forcibly converted to Catholicism, but the tradition was not so easy to eradicate. Of course, it managed to cancel the bloody sacrifices and reduce orgy from month up to 3 days. However, to replace the joy for sorrow, as well as to change the skull for the cross they didn’t manage.
The attempt to enter this pagan festival into the Christian canon was made. Earlier, Dia de los Muertos was celebrated on the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, but it was postponed to 1-2 November, when Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls' Day. Sometimes celebration begins earlier, on 31 October, for example.
Dia de los Muertos is a national holiday in Mexico, so that these days are the weekends, and even schools and businesses do not work.
November 1 - Day of little angels, when the worship of the dead children and infants is held.
November 2nd - actually the Day of the Dead, when dead adults are being commemorated.
According to the beliefs of Mexicans, it is considered that the dead continue to live in the afterlife - Miktlane, and death is only a transition from one life to another. Moreover, a year after the death, the deceased return to their homes in order to experience the joy of life, to see friends and family, to get what they love.
The altar of yellow marigold is a symbolic door between worlds, which is designed to help the souls to go home. Flower itself is often called the flower of the. The altar should be in every home. In recent years, they are placed even in the squares, schools, shops and restaurants, hospitals, hotels and airports.
The altar is decorated with gifts: flowers, candles, tamales (a dish made of corn flour), fruits, toys for children, and alcohol for adults. Required attributes are water, as spirits are thirsty after traveling, and a special sweet bread of the dead. Women are preparing favorite meals of the deceased during the whole day. Beds are being tucked in the houses, thus the dead could rest. Friends and relatives gather together for a joyful meeting with the deceased.
On the eve of the feast of the dead store shelves are filled with tiny skulls, skeletons and coffins, which are made of chocolate, clay or cardboard. Skulls and skeletons are everywhere, in the windows, doors, on the streets, painted on clothes, walls and pavement. Often, they are smiling, performed in bright and cheerful colors. You can even be given the skull or the coffin with your name, do not be surprised - it's from the heart. It is a custom to give them to relatives and friends.
As you see, traditions and customs of all the countries are different. We should respect all of them, because they are forming culture. In addition, we should be aware of some interesting facts of other countries, in order to be more intelligent and well-rounded.