Day of the dead

A Brief Guide to Day of the Dead

day of the dead

Day of the Dead, despite its name, is a celebration of life; the Mexican holiday brings together friends and family across Latin America to pray for and commemorate their departed loved ones.

Also known as Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead happens each year on 1st and 2nd November. Despite its proximity to Halloween, Day of the Dead is completely unrelated and is a colourful, life-affirming day that shows love and respect for the deceased.

Day of the Dead can be traced back to the Aztec, Toltec and Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. Today, the Mexican tradition is a national holiday and is recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Calavera Catrina or elegant skulls have become a ubiquitous symbol of the Day of the Dead, in a nod to a Diego Rivera mural. The icon is represented in intricately decorated masks, and food like sugar skulls.

Another important symbol of the Day of the Dead is the altar or ofrenda. Built in homes or cemeteries, they welcome the spirits of loved ones back to the realm of the living. They’re loaded with food such as sweet breads or sugar skulls, and water – because the journey back to this world is long.

The altar is also decorated with flowers, namely the orange Mexican marigold, photos and candles, and if the grave belongs to a child, small toys are left. Tequila, mezcal (a distilled alcoholic beverage made from maguey or agave), or pulque (a sweet fermented drink from agave sap) are left for adults.

Day of the Dead is truly a celebration of both life and death. The closest occasion we have is a Celebration of Life, a means of remembering and commemorating a loved one, often in a colourful and joyous way, instructions for which can be left in a funeral plan.

To see how a funeral plan could help with planning a joyful and vivid farewell, including Wills, Inheritance Planning, Probate and LPAs, contact us now or call 0800 411 8683 and one of our friendly advisors will be happy to help.