The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

From Novem­ber 1 to 2 an­u­ally, Mex­ico cel­e­brates the Day of the Dead (Día de Muer­tos). This fes­tive hol­i­day marks a spe­cial time in which fam­i­lies all across Mex­ico, and Mex­i­cans through­out the world, com­mem­o­rate the lives of their de­ceased loved ones by hon­our­ing their mem­ory through erect­ing al­tars (ofren­das), eat­ing their favourite foods and spend­ing time with close friends and fam­ily.

The ob­ser­vance of the Day of the Dead dates back thou­sands of years to the in­dige­nous cul­tures of Mex­ico, but its mod­ern ex­pres­sion de­rives from the cre­ole fu­sion of these cul­tures with the Euro­pean cul­ture brought by the Span­ish that gen­er­ated mod­ern Mex­ico. Dur­ing the time of the Aztecs, peo­ple would en­gage in an­nual fes­tiv­i­ties to pay homage to their an­ces­tors and all other close rel­a­tives who had passed away to Mict­lan, their ver­sion of the af­ter­life. Upon the ar­rival of the Spa­niards in the 16th cen­tury, these tra­di­tional ac­tiv­i­ties were con­tin­ued and, over the years, the rit­u­als evolved through the syn­the­sis of Span­ish Catholi­cism and the Aztec world­view.

The cel­e­bra­tion is dis­tinc­tive in the fact that it por­trays death as a con­ti­nu­ity of life and not as some­thing to be mourned or feared, in stark con­trast to other fes­tiv­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with All Saint's Day, such as Hal­lowe'en.

This year, the Day of the Dead cel­e­bra­tions in Mex­ico con­tin­ued to em­body the tra­di­tional sym­bol­ism of re­spect, hon­our and love for those who have lost their lives. This is ev­i­dent in the beau­ti­ful 'ofren­das' set up in fam­ily house­holds, which are typ­i­cally dec­o­rated with flow­ers (par­tic­u­larly marigolds), can­dles, food and, most im­por­tantly, pho­tographs of the de­ceased as a ges­ture of wel­come to the spir­its re­turn­ing home.

Ad­di­tion­ally, fam­i­lies also visit the ceme­ter­ies to place sim­i­lar items on the graves of their loved ones while re­call­ing fond mem­o­ries of the past.

Other com­mon tra­di­tions of these fes­tiv­i­ties in­clude sugar art in the form of skulls, face paint­ing and, more re­cently colour­ful pa­rades.

In 2008 UN­ESCO rec­og­nized the sig­nif­i­cance of Mex­ico's Day of the Dead by in­clud­ing the fes­ti­val in its list of In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage of Hu­man­ity.

The Día de Muer­tos dates back thou­sands of years and has been recog­nised by UN­ESCO for its cul­tural her­itage.

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