Waking up the Dead

The Day of the Dead

October 21, 2019

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living”
International Business Insider.

What happens to the dead once they leave this earth? Do they ascend into heaven or hell? Do they die and become reincarnated? There are so many theories on what happens to our spirits once we die, but no theory is more celebrated than the Spanish theory.

Dia de los Muertos, translated as Day of the Dead, is a Spanish-born holiday that celebrates the dead. The belief is that past loved ones will return to earth once every year to see their families and celebrate the holiday alongside the living. This holiday spans three days from October 31 to November 2 and is a constant celebration that includes multiple parades, food, alters, dancing, skulls and flowers.



The most notable attraction of Dia de los Muertos is the altars. Families decorate the graves of their loved ones with flowers, food and most importantly, a picture of their loved one. The belief is that the spirits of the dead can only return to their loved ones if they have a photo of themselves on a grave. It is like a security checkpoint for spirits. No picture, no entrance into the world of the living. Furthermore, the altar represents remembrance. If a loved one is not remembered, or their stories are not passed down to the next generation, they will disappear from the land of the dead to the land of the forgotten. Families ensure their loved ones’ entrance to both lands – living and dead – by beautifying their family members’ altars.

Students in Spanish and history classes often research the holiday.

“Dia de los Muertos is a really cool tradition that we spend a lot of time at Darien High School learning about,” senior Julia Pfrommer said.

Another tradition is Cempasuchil, the flowers of the dead. They are said to be the only reason the souls can find their way back to their families living on earth. The aroma of the flowers leads the soul to their altar where they are greeted by their loved ones.

Pan de Muertos is the Day of the Dead bread that is very popular part of this celebration. The bread is laid on the altar as an offering for the spirit when he or she arrive on the land of the living. The bread is sweet and tastes absolutely wonderful alongside the candy skulls.


“The bread is incredibly delicious and worth trying” senior Lexi Punishell, said.

Skulls play a significant role in Dia de los Muertos. They represent the dead and are found in the forms of face paint on people’s faces or Are eaten as candy and there are also plastic or paper mache skulls. The skulls are placed on the altar as an offering just like the Pan de Muertos.

Dia de los Muertos has also spawned some very good movies based off of the holiday, not to mention the spectacular beginning of the James Bond film, “Specter”.

Viral Media

Comparison between Coco and The Book of Life

Dia de los Muertos has also spawned some very good movies based off of the holiday. Most notably is Book of Life and the Coco. Each movie has a similar backstory of a person deprived of music who ends up in the land of the dead on the hunt for their loved ones. Each movie depicts the holiday quite well and are worth looking at if you are interested in learning more about the holiday.

Above is the Book of Life and Coco Trailer.


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