The History of Dia de los Muertos

The origin of the celebration of Dia de los Muertos in Mexico dates back to the time of the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, such as the Aztec, Maya, Purépecha, Nahua, and Totonac. In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. Death was viewed as a transition between life on earth and a new life in the hereafter surrounded by the Gods.

During the conquest of Mexico by Spain, the efforts to convert indigenous peoples to Catholicism moved the ritual and belief to coincide with Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. As the friars introduced religion, art and pictures, these became part of the indigenous rituals and were merged with ancient rites and beliefs. The result was a merger of beliefs and tradition that became today’s celebration of the dead.

Dia de los Muertos in Mexico is a colorful and festive event that is unique to other cultures. Flowers, gifts, fruits, candles and music are offered to honor the memory of loved ones. The Dia de los Muertos feast and celebration as we know it today was born of the fusion of two cultures.