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History of Dia De Los Muertos

Skeletons and skulls are constant images in art of the Mexican cultural tradition.  Perhaps the most prevalent uses of symbolic skeletons are during the annual festival of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead.  Day of the Dead happens to be the most important holiday of the year in urban, but especially rural Mexico.


The origins of Dia de los Muertos in Mexico date to the time before the Conquistadors, and reflect on the concepts of death and afterlife in the Olmec, Toltec, Maya, and especially Aztec cultures; yet it is today a Christian holiday synthesized with traditional beliefs.

The Aztecs believed in an afterlife where the dead would return as butterflies or hummingbirds and evidence shows this belief was synchronized with the fall migration of monarch butterflies.

Families honoring the dead usually construct and decorate home altars known as ofrendas. Decorations include candles, gifts, flowers, pictures of saints and of the dead. Candies and toys are made in the shapes of Calaveras, or skulls and skeletons. Unlike other cultures, Mexican tradition sees the skeleton and skull as a promise of resurrection, not death. This is attributed to the philosophical acceptance of death as an integral part of the life cycle. Paper Mache figures of Calaveras are adorned in modern-day clothing to symbolize the connection between the living and the dead. Often folk art depicts Calaveras in specific professions such as musicians, or brides and grooms and people in everyday activities.

Dia de los Muertos has also been used to express vanity and political discontent. The works of Jose Guadalupe Posada depict Day of the Dead Calaveras mocking social and political events of his time.

The celebrations of Dia de los Muertos continue in Mexican American communities of today. In southern California, for example, Self Help Graphics and Arts hosts over 3000 people for their Day of the Dead celebrations. It is the only celebration led by East Los Angeles artists and is free to the public. The celebration provides: food, craft vendors, art-workshops, and performances. Also with an Aztec blessing and ceremony followed by contemporary Latino musical groups. Day of the Dead is a time of awareness of the life, mortality, and death. Rather than deny and fear death, it teaches a society to accept and contemplate the meaning of mortality. I personally love the fact I give that time to keep remembering my family that has passed away, it brings me a smile when there is so much love when it comes to Family.  I hope you enjoy my collection , please feel free to email me and please share my collection with all the animal lovers out there. 

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