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Celebrating Día de Los Muertos (aka Day of the Dead)

Different cultures have their own traditions of commemorating the dead. In India, the departed are cremated along the banks of the Ganges River. Here in the United States, we tend to favor a funeral service to honor the recently deceased, followed by a wake to remember those who are no longer with us. One tradition started in Mexico that has woven its way into popular culture is Día de Los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead.

A woman celebrating Día de Los Muertos in traditional garb and face paint

Like many regions of the world that became colonized by Europe, traditions of the indigenous people became intertwined with Roman Catholicism. Día de los Muertos is no exception to this. The origins of the holiday trace back to the Aztec people, who dedicated the entire ninth month of their calendar to observe the tradition of remembrance.

Catholicism embraced this tradition and shortened the celebration from one month to three days. Día de las Muertos lasts from October 31st to November 2nd. November 1st and 2nd are important days in the catholic church, as both coincide with All Saints and All Souls Day, respectively. On these days, the various saints of the catholic faith are recognized. This is followed by All Souls Day, where the dead are remembered. In Mexico, All Souls Day is celebrated as the Day of the Dead.

More than just remembering the dearly departed, the core belief of the celebration is that the dead return to walk the earth to visit their loved ones. As a result, graves are decorated with brightly colored flowers to help the spirits find their way. Items such as alcohol and food which they enjoyed during their lifetime accompany these floral arrangements. Día de Los Inocentes, or Day of the Little Angels, takes place on November 1st and is meant to honor the souls of lost children. Typically, their graves are decorated with treats and toys.

While the celebrations involving most holidays typically coincide with the season they occur during, Día de Los Muertos is an all-year affair. Planning takes place all year long, and while the occasion welcomes all people who wish to commemorate the souls of those who have passed, the celebratory painting of faces and traditional garb is discouraged among those who aren’t Mexican Catholic.

While the distance between Sarasota and Mexico City is substantial, a location to commemorate those who are no longer with us is not. As Día de Los Muertos approaches, a visit to Jalisco Mexican Grill is the ideal trip to take. Raise a glass to the departed and feast in their honor. For a full menu, directions, and much more, visit our website.

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