Day of the Dead Rituals to Celebrate Who You Were
Day of the Dead
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is the biggest religious festival in Mexico celebrated on the evening of October 31 until November 2. Mexicans celebrate the life of their deceased family member through festivities and not mourning.
Historians believe that as far back as 3,000 years ago, the tradition of Day of the Dead started from a Meso-American festival honoring Mictecacihuatl, goddess of the underworld. Christian holidays like All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) were introduced by Spanish missionaries. Since then, natives of modern-day Mexico incorporated their own traditions for honoring the dead into these days.
Day of the Dead is Mexico’s most celebrated religious holiday. Families believe that it is a time for the soul of their departed loved ones to come home. They set up altars with offerings to welcome their dead. These alters are typically adorned with pictures of the deceased, their favorite foods and items from their lives, candles, and paper decorations. Sometimes, they will also visit graveyards to clean and decorate the grave sites of their loved ones. In other parts of Mexico, like in the Yucatan Peninsula, part of their local tradition includes exhuming the bones of their dead and washing them with their bare hands.
What’s interesting is that even though the day is filled with images of skulls and skeletons, the holiday itself is cheerful and there is no mourning involved. It is considered a family holiday and there are often parades and parties with lots of people gathering together.
But even if your heritage doesn’t hail from south of the US border, you can still leverage this holiday. Here’s How!
First and foremost, Day of the Dead is about remembrance and honoring those we loved. This can be applied to the older and “no longer living” versions of you. This is not a time of sadness for who you once were, but rather a celebration of your successes and achievements.
- Consider going thru your closets looking for old clothing and shoes that no longer fit or are no longer in style. Donate these for a fresh start in your wardrobe.
- Thumb thru old photos. Notice the differences. Whatever you were then, reflect on how far you have come from that point. Remember the changes you have made. Some of them may have been life changing. =)
- Review some of your old goals and accomplishments. Make a note of the things you have acchieved. Anything you have not – now would be a great time to reevaluate and see if it’s really important to you and deserves a place on your current list of goals and things to accomplish.
- Like the Yucatan people might wash the bones, consider taking an hour to rest and relax in a restorative bath. Consider making your own bath bombs like these: https://muybuenocookbook.com/bath-bomb-skulls/
Very much like the Flowers of the Dead that decorate the Mexican alters, cempazuchitl, that are sometimes used to represent the sun and rebirth, I think that the whole holiday can be used as a moment to refresh and revitalize ourselves as we move forward into the Holiday Season as well as the darker and more quiet times of the year.