Dia de los Muertos – Did You Know It’s More Than Just One Day?
Dia de los Muertos is a special time for Mexican families. They decorate their loved ones gravesites and their own homes with food and photos, flowers and candles. Altars are colorful and joyful because they are a celebration of the life of their loved ones, not the mourning of their deaths. The ofrendas aren't put there for the deceased to enjoy, it's believed that the essence of the offerings are absorbed by the deceased person. Altars are not for worshiping the dead - they're for remembering and honoring the deceased and their lives.
MORE THAN ONE DAY?
I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post by Lolo Mercadito, a company from Guerrero, Mexico, that outlined other days that honor the dead at this time of the year. I had no idea but I reached out to the company and they told me that they celebrate these days with their families "from Taxco, Guerrero, Aguascalientes, and Arandas, Jalisco, so it’s a mix of these places, and the celebrations vary from place to place, especially from region to region."
CELEBRATION DAYS OCTOBER 28 THRU NOVEMBER 3
The first day is celebrated on October 28 and honors and memorializes souls who died suddenly or died in an accident. I think this is lovely because a sudden death is so shocking for the family.
The second day is October 29 and according to one of the sites that explains the different days of the dead, this day is for the souls of people who drowned. Lolo Mercadito also explains that it is for souls of those who were abandoned for forgotten. Another lovely way to remember all souls who have gone on, even those who might not have a family to remember them on Dia de los Muertos.
The third day is October 30 and is for those who died due to an accident but who didn't have the chance to eat. This warms my heart so much because so much of Mexican culture is about cooking and eating and the hospitality that surrounds that most basic of human need.
October 31 is for our ancestors. Altars of their favorite foods and drinks, even things like cigarettes are put on altars on this day. It can also be for the souls of those who are in limbo. I love that these days don't forget the forgotten.
November 1 is for the souls of little angels, or children who have died. It is also known as All Saints' Day. I've never lost a child and the thought is devastating. I hope that this day helps bring peace to the parents of those little angels.
November 2 is for adult souls. Yes, we've covered these in the other days, but really, is there too much prayer and memories of those who have gone before us? No, I don't think so. I think any time we can bring our lost loved ones back in our hearts we should.
On the last day of Dia de los Muertos on November 3 we say our final goodbyes for the year and take down our altars. Of course, the thing about Dia de los Muertos is that it teaches us that we never lose our loved ones as long as we have them in our hearts. I don't keep an altar all year but after the last explanation, you'll see the altar I keep at my front door. It has my grandmothers' prayer cards and crucifixes from rosaries that have long since become unstrung. On my Sacred Heart, I have a rosary I prayed while my oldest son, Ryan, was in Iraq during his 3 deployments, and there are even little offerings that friends and family have given me to include on the altar. It's not a day of the dead altar, but it is my altar to my family.