The history of Day of the Dead

31/10/13

As the rest of the world celebrates Halloween, we take a brief look at the history of 'Day of the Dead'At first glance, it may very well sound like a variation of Halloween. After all, the celebration traditionally starts at midnight on the night of October 31st.

However, the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an altogether different affair.

Not to be confused with Halloween, this holiday has a rich history and involves more than dressing up in costumes or trick-or-treating.

A festival of remembrance celebrated in Mexico between 31st October and 2nd November, this unique version of the Roman Catholic feasts of All Saints' and All Souls' Days is an occasion to remember the deceased.

The flavour of the modern festival seems to emerge in the 18th Century, but it is believed to have roots in Pre-Columbian rituals such as the Aztec festivals of Miccailhuitontli and Huey Miccailhuitl (the Little and Great Feasts of the Dead).

Just as the Aztecs offered food and drink to nourish their ancestors on their journey to the underworld, Mexicans make ofrendas (offerings) of food and drink, music and flowers, to attract the souls of their loved ones to return briefly to earth and to sustain them on their journey back.

A beautiful celebration of life, you do not need to be Mexican or Catholic to honour your dearly departed.