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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Dia de los Muertos

At the end of October, Americans celebrate Halloween. Kids get all dressed up in costumes bought at the local Wal-Mart, parents take their children around the neighborhood, and college kids tend to go out drinking.

In Mexico, however, a very different tradition is upheld. The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated on the first and second of November. Mexican families pay tribute to their dead ancestors through offerings, songs, and thousands of candles.

The typical participant decorates an altar in their home dedicated to the deceased. Such items as papel piado (tissue paper cut-outs); intricate wreaths and crosses adorned with silk and paper flowers, candles and votive lights; fresh, seasonal flowers, marigolds (cempazuchilies), and cockscomb (barro de Obispo), can be bought throughout most of October in markets all across Mexico.

Candy treats in the shape of skulls and coffins, and sugary sweet rolls known as pan de muerto, are popular snacks placed at altars for the departed. Family members may also choose to offer a few of the deceased’s favorite foods, drinks, and even a pack of cigarettes.

November 1 is technically known as All Saints Day, while November 2 is regarded as All Souls Day. All Saints Day is generally focused towards remembering infants and children, frequently referred to as little angels, or angelitos. The adult members of society receive more acknowledgements on November 2.

At 2:00 pm on the first day of the celebration, family members assemble together at the tombs to mourn the loss of relatives with la llorada, the weeping. When dusk arrives, the darkness is hidden by thousands of votive candles used to illuminate a path for the dead.

Extended families congregate in graveyards on All Souls Day for a festive reunion. Vendors often set up carts selling food and drinks outside the cemetery gates. A fireworks display is often part of the celebration, but the sound of pyrotechnic rockets often signifies the holiday’s most solemn interlude, an open-air memorial mass.

Those here in Boston interested in learning more about the Latin American holiday, have the opportunity to take part in two events, one located on our very own campus. On All Souls Day, Friday, November 2, the Peabody Museum of Archeology will have several activities planned especially for the Mexican celebration.

Beginning at 5:30, the Museum will be hosting “Mictlan” by Imagin Arte. The show is a puppeteer troupe from Mexico City. After the performance, guests will be invited upstairs for a traditional Day of the Dead fiesta.

Before you head up to Peabody, however, be sure to check out our Campus Center on Thursday November 1. Between 1 and 4PM, in Room 3540 on the 3rd floor, students can “get a taste of how this day is celebrated in Latin America.”

So, be sure to enjoy the celebrations (wherever you choose to do so), the traditions, and the history this Dia de los Muertos; after gorging on your stash of trick or treating candy, of course.