Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, especially in the central and southern parts of the country. The holiday focuses on gathering family and friends to pray for and remember their loved ones that have passed. The celebration begins on October 31st and ends on November 2nd.
Traditions connected to the holiday include creating ofrendas (offerings) altars to honor deceased loved ones. An ofrendas altar consists of three tiers. The topmost tier identifies the person who is being invited to the altar and usually includes a picture of the person along with religious images. The second tier includes items that encourage the deceased to feel at home and welcome, such as the deceased person's favorite dish, as well as mole, pan dulce (sweet bread) and pan de muerto (bread of the dead). Sometimes they even offer a shot of tequila! The third and last tier contains candles, soup, a mirror, and a towel so that the spirit can clean and refresh themselves upon arrival to the altar. Calaveras (sugar skulls) and beautiful yellow cempazuchitl (marigolds), the Aztec flower of the dead, are placed on all three tiers. Ofrendas altars are often built at home, as well as village cemeteries.
To honor and embrace differences of culture, San Mateo County Libraries will be hosting a variety of programs for Día de Los Muertos. Activities include crafts related to the tradition, as well as the sharing of pan dulce and chocolate. Check with your branch to find out how you can learn about and celebrate the cultural tradition of Día de los Muertos.
Does your family celebrate Día de Los Muertos? Let us know how in the comments below.