North Texas Daily

Día de los Muertos do’s and dont’s

Día de los Muertos do’s and dont’s

Día de los Muertos do’s and dont’s
October 25
00:53 2018

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be that Día de los Muertos is not the Mexican version of Halloween.

Though this celebration occurs during “spooky season” and usually takes place in cemeteries, Día de los Muertos is actually a holiday that venerates one’s ancestors.

Day of the Dead, as Americans know it, stems from Aztec, Toltec and Nahua traditional rituals honoring the dead — rites that are thousands of years old.

These ancestral tribes of Mexico mourning the dead was disrespectful because they believed death was merely the next step in the cycle of life. To them, death only marked a physical separation — all loved ones remained members of their community even after their deaths. These beliefs, along with both post- and pre-Hispanic religious rites, comprise the commemoration of Day of the Dead.

It is during this celebration, on Nov. 1 and 2, that the spiritual and tangible world bridge together in order for deceased members of the community to reunite with their friends and family.

On Día de los Muertos, families gather together and prepare “ofrendas,” or altars, that honor the dead. These altars hold tokens of remembrance, such as candles that act as a guiding light for the spirits, sugar skulls painted in their likeness and pictures of loved ones. People also typically bring the deceased loved ones’ favorite dishes as food offerings for the altars.

The most prominent tradition of the holiday is the path of petals. Sometimes referred to as “flor de muerto,” the cempazúchitl  (or marigold) is sacred to the Aztec god of the dead. A marigold path guides the spirit over the bridge and back into their spiritual realm when the festivities are over.

For non-Mexican or non-Latinx people wishing to observe Dia de los Muertos, here are a few suggestions I have:

First of all, if you’re celebrating in the U.S., find a festival run by a Mexican or Latinx group. Do your research on the local festivities to ensure you’re supporting people who represent the culture you’re admiring and not a random white guy solely focused on profit.

Secondly, do not paint your face as a calavera unless you understand and can connect with the cultural significance of the face painting. This can be considered disrespectful because calavera face paint on this holiday is not trivial. Each color is representative of something greater: white represents hope, yellow represents unity, red represents life, purple represents mourning and pink represents happiness.

The sensible thing to do is wait and see if face painting services are offered at the festival you attend. And in order to guarantee you’re supporting the right people, make sure those running the booth are culturally connected to the holiday.

Lastly, do not under any circumstances use any of these traditional representations of calaveras, La Catrinaor any other figure from Día de los Muertos as a costume. Mexican culture is not meant to be a costume for your Halloweekend frat costume party. Stick to harmless movie characters and obscure puns and avoid insensitive disguises.

Featured Illustration: Chelsea Tolin

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Xaviera Hernandez

Xaviera Hernandez

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