The History of Dia De Los Muertos

The History of Dia De Los Muertos - Ixtapa Mexican Grill & Cantina

Dia De Los Muertos Altar

Well, fall is officially here. We may have spent the last month pretending it was summer, but the recent return of chilly weather has made the new season official. Fall brings a large gambit of fun for those in America: from jumping in leaves to Halloween to slicing open a turkey on Thanksgiving. But for our neighbors on our southern border, fall means something entirely different. For many Mexicans, autumn means Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

Dia De Los Muertos is an annual holiday celebrated between October 31 and November 2. The holiday is a way to celebrate the lives of family members and friends who have passed away. Families invite the souls of the recently departed to join them at their house for a dinner so they can reminisce about the good times they had during their lives. They decorate their gravesites to help the departed souls along their spiritual journey. This holiday has been practiced for centuries, so let’s take a look at the history behind Dia De Los Muertos.

The Beginning

Dia De Los Muertos began way back in the 16th Century, when Aztecs called Mexico home. During the month of Miccailhuitontli, Aztecs would celebrate the dead, as the people would joyfully party to remember their children and ancestors who passed away. All celebrations were held for the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl. Traditions for this holiday included bringing food offerings and small clay images of the deceased to a few alters.

In Comes Europe

Later in the 16th Century the Spanish arrived in Latin America and quickly colonized the area. Along with the Spanish came their traditions, including the Christian Holiday of All Souls Day. The holiday commemorates the dead and baptized Christians who were thought to be in purgatory. This holiday was very similar to Miccailhuitontli celebration, so similar that priests moved Miccailhuitontli from Summer to Fall to combine it with All Souls Day.

Modern Day Dia De Los Muertos

The History of Dia De Los Muertos - Ixtapa Mexican Grill

Mexican Sugar Skull created for Dia De Los Muertos.

Today, Dia De Los Muertos encompasses the spirit of both the celebration of Miccailhuitontli and All Souls Day. Dia De Los Muertos is now a three day extravaganza, stretching from October 31 to November 2. October 31, or All Hallows Eve, is a celebration for the spirits of dead Children. The next day is All Saints Day, where it is now the deceased adults’ turn to come back to the family. Finally November 2 is All Souls Day where everyone celebrates and decorate the gravesites of all their deceased friends and family.

Part of the beauty of Mexican culture is the delicious food. No Mexican event is complete without a robust and tasty menu. At Ixtapa, we make real, authentic Mexican food that will make you feel like you are in the middle of a Dia De Los Muertos fiesta.