History of Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) was originally celebrated in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica around 3,000 years ago during August. In Mexico, the Aztecs and other Nahua people prepared the dead for the afterlife by leaving food, water, and tools on altars for them. They believed the deceased were entering another chapter of their lives after passing on. First, the deceased were believed to enter Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead. The Nahua people believed that after nine life-cycles they traveled to Mictlán, the final resting place. 

Día de los Muertos is celebrated on the first and second days of November. Mexicans and others who celebrate the holiday believe that the borders between the worlds of the spirits and the living dissolve on Día de los Muertos. Family members of the deceased make their loved ones’ favorite foods and leave offerings at altars and at gravesides, which are decorated with flowers and candles. Alacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls) appear on candied sweets, masks, and decorations. Music festivals, parades, and dances are held throughout Mexico. Día de los Muertos is also observed in Central and South America.

To learn more about Día de los Muertos, take a look at the books below. They can be placed on hold and picked up at the library.