Día de los Muertos Celebration

  Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican celebration of ancestors or family that has passed away. Families welcome the souls of their family for a reunion involving food, drinks, and a celebration of life. Tradition states that the gates of heaven open at midnight on Oct.31, so that spirits of children can unite with their families for 24 hours. On Nov.2, the spirits of adults are able to do the same. Additionally, deceased pets are also able to join and are celebrated. The official date of Día de los Muertos is from Nov.1 to Nov.2.

 With the school population being multicultural, many students personally celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or even have friends that celebrate it. 

Senior Jaylenne Pliego stated, “To celebrate Dia de los Muertos, I put up my ofrenda for my abuela and abuelo, grandmother and grandfather. All my family put up things to remember them by. We enjoyed Pan de muerto, tamales, and much more”. 

Pan de muerto, bread of the dead, is a traditional sweet baked good for the day of the dead. It is similar to challah, but topped with sprinkles or sesame seeds. She explained, “I celebrate Día de los Muertos not only because it is tradition, but also because I like to remember my grandparents in a good way.”

  Ryan Saadi (12) stated, “For Día de los Muertos my family and I put up an ofrenda in our houses. We put up photos, and favorite foods of our passed family members. Then we gathered at my grandfather’s house and ate together.”


  The tradition of Día de los Muertos draws back from about 3,000 years ago to pre-columbia Mesoamerica. The Aztecas, or Aztecs, and Nahua viewed death as a part of life, so they chose to celebrate it. It is believed that souls of the past live in the Land of the Dead, Chicunamictlán, and reach Mictlán, or the final resting place, after passing many levels. 

Día de los Muertos serves as a time of remembrance and a time of help to the spirits that are still on their journey. It is the only day of the year that the border between the real world and spirit world goes away. 

Living family members make altars, better known as ofrendas, in their homes. They leave food, water, favorite treats of the passed ones, and pictures of them on the ofrendas. Additionally, they are decorated with candles and marigolds, or cempasuchi. 

The most important symbols of Day of the Dead are the skeletons (calacas) and skulls (calaveras). During the day, people fashion skull masks, and eat skull shaped candies. They became really popular due to cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada who created the work La Calavera Catrina (Elegant Skull). 

There is a beautiful representation of Dia de los Muertos throughout the movie “Coco” by Disney. It touches on the key aspects of tradition, ofrendas, and even cempasuchi. Most importantly, it speaks of the importance of remembering family and to celebrate the lives of deceased family members. Recently, the woman that “Coco” was based off of, María Salud Ramírez Caballero, passed away on Oct.16, 2022 at age 109. But, she still lives on in memory and on her family’s ofrenda.