Our Family Service will be a week early, Sunday October 28th, so we can celebrate Dia de Los Muertos (a.k.a All Hallows Eve/Halloween). We will have a special ofrenda (memorial altar) in the church, and use some Spanish in our liturgy. You are invited to bring photos or symbolic objects for the altar to remember loved ones, or special foods they enjoyed, as is the tradition. Kids (and grown-ups too!) are invited to wear costumes to church and enjoy special treats at coffee hour.
A History of Dia de Los Muertos
The Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico and around the world by people of Mexican ancestry, especially in the United States. Día de los Muertos was originally celebrated as an opportunity for Mexicans to remember and pay tribute to their deceased loved ones. Día de los Muertos is similar to the American celebration of Halloween, with its themes of death and the spirit world. However, unlike the modern day interpretation of Halloween, Día de los Muertos is neither morbid nor gloomy; it is a festive remembrance of those who have departed.
The Day of the Dead has its origins in a number of different religious customs dating back to the Aztecs. In pre-Hispanic times, the Mexican people maintained deep and personal ties with their dead. In fact, family members were often buried directly underneath their homes. When the colonizing Spaniards arrived, they brought with them their Roman Catholic customs, which included the Holy Days of All Souls’ and All Saints. These Christian practices link back to Samhein, the ancient Celtic Holy Day, celebrated across Britain, which honors the transition of the dead from this world to the spirit world. Gradually, it was associated with October 31, November 1 and November 2 to coincide with the Christian triduum of All Hallowtide: All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day.
Mexicans believe that on the Day of the Dead, spirits return to Earth for the day to be with their families. Little angel (angelitos) spirits arrive on October 31st at midnight and stay for 24 hours. Adults come the next day and stay through November 2. During the three-day period families visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas (altars), which often include orange Mexican marigolds, In modern Mexico the marigold is sometimes called Flor de Muerto (Flower of Dead). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead. Bottles of tequila or mezcal are put out for the deceased adults. Families offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the ofrenda. Some families have ofrendas at home, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto("bread of dead"), and sugar skulls.
Ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the dead.