By: Jasmine Wolfe
The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and those of Mexican heritage. The rituals honoring the dead go back 3,000 years. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, so the spirits, can rejoin their families for 24 hours then the spirits of the adults can do the same on November 2nd. The brief reunion includes food, drinks and celebrations at the loved one’s grave or alter. These alters are decorated with bright yellow marigold flowers that are believed to be the pathway that guides the spirits, photos of the departed and the favorite foods and drinks of the one being honored.
Day of The Dead is the celebration of life not death. Ancient Mesoamericans believed that death was part of the journey of life. Rather than death ending life, they believed that new life came from the death. Upon dying, a person was believed to travel to Chicunamictlan, the Land of the Dead. Only after getting through nine challenging levels, a journey of several years, then the person’s soul finally reaches Mictlan, the final resting place. In Nahua rituals honoring the dead, traditionally held in August, this is when family members provided food, water and tools to aid the deceased in this difficult journey.