Day of the Dead – Remembering Family & Friends

Day of the dead is a celebration that honors and remembers family and friends that have died.

According to Wikipedia, they describe the holiday this way, it focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Catrinas, one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

I for one think many of our cultures should find more ways in which we publicly honor our loved ones that have died.  Often in American culture (which is all I am qualified top speak on) we tend to only remember our loved ones on significant dates to our dearly departed and at that many people tell me they do this privately.  I have taken some time to learn more about how the Mexican culture celebrates and honors their loved ones with great joy and celebration and I for one rather like this tradition.  To honor another in joyful celebration to me really gives meaning to me that this person I cared so deeply for mattered and I am here to publicly acknowledge their life.

What do you think?  I’d love your comments below about this celebration or any other that your culture may have to honor and celebrate a life.

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4 Responses to Day of the Dead – Remembering Family & Friends

  • Leandra,
    thanks for sharing your groups party, sounds like it’s a celebration of life!

    joAnne

  • Hi, just thought that I would share that I host this party every year for a group of women from a support group I am the organizer of called The Motherless Daughters of Greater Phoenix. We build an alter around my fireplace that we decorate and all my guests bring pictures of their loved ones and anything that reminds them of those they have lost.. Some of my guests bring CDs of the music their mothers loved… We have great time bonding and sharing stories.. Its been very rewarding.
    Thanks, Leandra

  • My husband and I had the wonderful experience of being in Poland two years ago during All Saints DAy. It was an amazing experience! The cemeteries were full of flowers, candles, lights and more importantly people! Jim and I were touched by this beautiful vision of color and lights but mostly by the unbelievable numbers of family and friends at the cemeteries. I would say thousands and thousands of people, standing room only !! I for one would prefer the Polish tradition of honoring loved ones in a joyful celebration. One full of beauty and light and a gathering of friends of family. See the beautiful pictures found at the following link http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1514296/posts

  • I truly enjoyed your comments I think it is a great idea!

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