Over the weekend, people started their Día de Muertos festivities. The holiday, which has been incorrectly called Latin American Halloween, is popular in Mexico, though it is celebrated in Central and South America as well. In some places it’s called Día de Difuntos and in others it’s not quite as elaborate, but at its core, Día de Muertos – a mix of All Souls Day and indigenous traditions – is about remembering those who have died.
Here’s how Día de Muertos was celebrated in Latin America:
Mexico’s Día de Muertos is perhaps the most colorful. It’s a three-day celebration starting on October 31, where altares de muertos are prepared to invite the spirits of children to visit. The rest of the spirits visit on the next day, and November 2 is a day to visit and decorate the graves of loved ones.
Snapchat did a great job of rounding up what Día de Muertos is like in different parts of Mexico, as well as how Mexican-Americans celebrated it in the United States.
Maybe the biggest proof that Día de Muertos has made it in the U.S. is that this year, the White House paid tribute to the holiday for the first time, according to Vivala. Along with having an exhibit dedicated to Day of the Dead, there was also papel picado and a Catrina.
Before November 2, there is a lot of work done to cemeteries, as graves are repaired and repainted. The government also puts together an altar offering things like bread, pasankallas, drinks, fruits, and more, according to Efe. Yesterday, the Cancillería prepared a banquet for a mix of figures, including Muammar Gaddafi, Nelson Mandela, Gabriel García Márquez, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Hugo Chávez.
Bolivia also shows off how Día de Muertos is celebrated in other countries through an exhibition organized by the Alcaldía de La Paz.
For some, Día de Difuntos was an opportunity to demand justice from La Corte de Justicia de La Paz, for the high number of femicides in Bolivia. Altars were set up like traditional tables, but they also included the names and images of women who have been victims of femicide.
Noon on November 1 is an important time because that’s the moment it’s believed that the souls come down to eat and drink the things they liked in life. They leave once again on November 2.
Early on Sunday, people went to visit their loved ones at the cemetery, as well as to clean them up and decorate them. The cemeteries expect an influx of people on November 2nd, according to La Prensa. November 1st is mostly to honor children and is known as el día de los angelitos.
Outside of the cemetery, people were selling flowers to be placed on the graves of loved ones.
Guatemala has many similarities to other Día de Muertos celebrations, with people going to cemeteries and eating traditional foods, like fiambre, dulce de ayote and atol blanco. But one of the things that makes their celebration so unique are the homemade kites that are flown to guide spirits back.
In Tonacatepeque, the celebration of La Calabiuza celebrates characters from the mythology of Cuscatlan – pre-Columbian west and central regions of El Salvador –and their dead relatives, according to Tico Times. In the last few years, it has become the most popular way to celebrate Día de Muertos. Between 1980 and 1992, La Calabiuza was not celebrated because of the civil war, and people started to adopt Halloween. But the community would not let La Calabiuza die.