Why Day of the Dead is not a Mexican version of Halloween.

I’ve been living in Mexico for over a year now, and I’m very fortunate to be about to experience Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) for the second time. However, I’ve been asked by many of my British friends if Day of the Dead is just a Mexican version of Halloween. The simple answer is no. Day of the Dead is an integral part of Mexican culture, and has its origins in the pre-Columbian cultures that were present in Mexico many centuries ago. Most people are aware of this Mexican holiday thanks to the James Bond franchise, where Daniel Craig is seen running through a parade for Day of the Dead in Mexico City. But, did you know this parade was actually only invented for Spectre, before this film was released, a parade in Mexico City for Day of the Dead was unheard of. But, the year following the release of the film, many people came to Mexico City to see the parade, so ever since then the Mexicans have put on this parade for the foreigners. So if originally there was no parade for Day of the Dead, how did Mexicans celebrate it? And what were they celebrating?

Well, Day of the Dead is actually a religious celebration. Technically, the actual Day of the Dead is 2nd November; however over the years, the tradition has evolved to also include 31st October and 1st November as well. 1st November is referred to as Dia de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels), and is the day when Mexicans honour all the children who have died. 2nd November is Día de los difuntos (Day of the Dead), and is the day when families honour the adults they have lost. It is believed that on these days, the souls of the deceased return to earth to be with their families and loved ones. To honour the dead as they return to Earth, families build huge ofrendas (shrines) for them. If anyone has seen the film Coco, they will have a vague idea of what I mean. These shrines include photographs, the deceased’s favourite food and drink, pan de meurto (a sweet bread typical of this holiday) and flor de muerto (flower of the dead). Mexicans leave a trail of flor de muerto from their front doors to the shrines they have built for their loved ones in their homes. It is believed that the flowers will help guide the dead to the shrines. The day after Day of the Dead, they say that food in the shrine has lost all its aroma and flavour, because the dead feed on the aroma as they are unable to physically eat it. Throughout Mexico, costumes, body paint, and imagery of skulls and bones are also often used as important symbols to honour the dead during this holiday.

It is important to note that the celebrations for this holiday, especially for Día de los Angelitos and Dia de los Muertos, vary widely throughout the different regions of Mexico. What I explained above is what I have experienced during Day of the Dead. But, in some areas of Mexico, the cemetery plays a bigger role than the home in the celebrations.
I have only ever experienced the celebrations that take place in people’s homes, and I would like to elaborate on this. Last year, I was very fortunate to be able to visit the small town of Huaquechula, in the state of Puebla. During the celebrations, the locals open up their houses to the public so that everyone can admire their ofrendas. These ofrendas are very extravagant and take up entire rooms of the house. Pictures do not do these ofrendas justice, and I would highly recommend a visit to the town to witness this celebration first hand. Speaking to the families about their loved ones, and seeing how much time and dedication it took them to build their ofrendas, is a truly humbling experience.

I’ve also been told that the celebrations for Day of the Dead in Oaxaca and Michoacán are some of the best in the country. I’ve not been able to visit these states during Day of the Dead before, but fingers crossed that I’ll be able to visit one of them this year!
23 ottobre 2018
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Andrew Bell

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Hello, my name is Andrew and I am a native English speaker from England. I'm currently training to become a translator, and I have been teaching English since 2017. If you need help with your English, or you are preparing for the IELTS exam or iGCSE exam, send me a message or book a trail lesson with me so we can discuss how I can help you. My Specialities include: English Grammar British pronunciation Writing practice Conversation practice Interview preparation Exam preparation Writing your CV in English Business English 30 minutes lessons and lesson recording is available - send me a message for more information. If you're still not sure, here are some of the reasons why I am the right person to help you: WHY SHOULD YOU CHOOSE ME? - I have experience teaching English as a foreign language. - I have worked in a high school, college and university (ages 11+). - I have experience teaching English to beginners, intermediate and advanced level students. - I can help you improve your British accent. - I studied Spanish at university so I understand how difficult it is to learn a foreign language. - Learn English in your own language (only for Spanish speakers). MY CLASSES - Fun, energetic and interactive one to one lessons. - Written feedback after each lesson. - Classes individually designed for each student. - Students take control of the class, we will only study what you want to study. - Maximum student talking time and participation. If you have any questions, don't hesitate in sending me a message. If you would like to book a lesson with me, but there are no times available for you, let me know so we can organise a time that suits both of us. I hope to see you soon! También hablo español. No dudes en escribirme por cualquier cosa. ¡Espero verte pronto! Entendo português se você quer me escrever em português. Espero te ver logo!
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Francese
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Hello, my name is Andrew and I am a native English speaker from England. I'm currently training to become a translator, and I have been teaching English since 2017. If you need help with your English, or you are preparing for the IELTS exam or iGCSE exam, send me a message or book a trail lesson with me so we can discuss how I can help you. My Specialities include: English Grammar British pronunciation Writing practice Conversation practice Interview preparation Exam preparation Writing your CV in English Business English 30 minutes lessons and lesson recording is available - send me a message for more information. If you're still not sure, here are some of the reasons why I am the right person to help you: WHY SHOULD YOU CHOOSE ME? - I have experience teaching English as a foreign language. - I have worked in a high school, college and university (ages 11+). - I have experience teaching English to beginners, intermediate and advanced level students. - I can help you improve your British accent. - I studied Spanish at university so I understand how difficult it is to learn a foreign language. - Learn English in your own language (only for Spanish speakers). MY CLASSES - Fun, energetic and interactive one to one lessons. - Written feedback after each lesson. - Classes individually designed for each student. - Students take control of the class, we will only study what you want to study. - Maximum student talking time and participation. If you have any questions, don't hesitate in sending me a message. If you would like to book a lesson with me, but there are no times available for you, let me know so we can organise a time that suits both of us. I hope to see you soon! También hablo español. No dudes en escribirme por cualquier cosa. ¡Espero verte pronto! Entendo português se você quer me escrever em português. Espero te ver logo!
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