Dia de los Muertos

The informant talks about how important the Dia de los Muertos celebration was for his family. Normally celebrated from November 1st to 2nd but there are sometimes extra days based on location in Mexico the person is from. Dia de los Muertos celebrates the dead by preparing a feast and all their favorite toys, meals, and so much more. This preparation thus invites the souls of the dead to be with their family. The first day would celebrate any children that the family had lost, and so candy, juices, and toys would be put out on the altar. The second day would be to celebrate the elderly, so they put out conchas, food, beer, a basket of fruits, and other things they might have been known to love.The third day would be to celebrate anyone in between who had died,  where family and friends would add anything left to add, decorate the tables, with colors like orange, red, green, yellow, pink and so much more. The informants also stated that they would include edible sugar skulls as decorations and a pastry called Pan de Muerto.  This is a big bulbous loaf of bread, shaped with knots with the round ball at the top and a cross intersecting that.  Marigolds were bright orange, meant to guide the souls of the dead back to their homes that scattered the altar. 

The informant emphasized that the reason the holiday celebration was so important is because everyone within the family would head over to help decorate, or just be there as a family and talk. They would all remember the deceased and talk about the memories they shared of them that would help to bring them closer together.  When the celebrations were over, everyone would be able to dig in and eat the food. The informant added that they never put pictures despite the big depiction and representation of having pictures on the altars because of poverty in Mexico and lack of cameras in Mexico. Thus the memory of their dead loved ones would live on in their memory. 

It seems to me that the importance of family is crucial to this holiday celebration as it commemorates any family member dead or alive. It takes a different take on the dead of ghostly stories and instead expects the souls of their dead ones among them, with only love and remembrance felt at the celebration. A small part of this is similar  to the concept of contact magic as they use food and toys that they used to love in their life, but it is not directly in contact with them. Additionally, symbolism such as the pan de muerto where the ball or knot at the top is meant to represent the skull and the cross is meant to represent the bones from their bodies. The holiday is very cyclical and falls at the same time of the year to have a dedicated time to commemorate any loved ones that have been lost.