Day of the Dead | Dime Bags | Appreciating Day of the Dead | History

Many people have adopted the sugar skulls and colorful images of the dead as their own; you can most commonly see these sugar skull designs throughout clothing, bags, makeup, and redefined as a fashion statement. In truth, the morbidity and sense of loss aren't always acknowledged within modern celebrations. But in Mexican and Latinx culture, the Day of the Dead is an honored celebration for the lives of families passed on, culminating a collection of traditions that weave in and out as a part of their lives. Join Dime Bags for a quick lesson on the history of Dia de Los Muertos as a way to appreciate (and not just appropriate) this important holiday.

Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, originated from a harvest holiday celebrated by the Aztecs and Toltecs with connections to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, also known as the "Lady of the Dead." Under Spanish conquistadors' influence bringing Catholic influence to Latin America, this holiday morphed with Catholic traditions such as All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. This holiday celebrated all month long and took place at the end of the summer, but due to Spanish colonizers feeling the holiday was sacrilegious. Throughout mid and lower Latin America, Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated with food, drink, parties, and activities that the dead enjoyed throughout their lives. On this day, the dead are part of the community again, awakened to share the celebration with loved ones. Families would visit cemeteries throughout November 1st and 2nd to pay homage to those who have passed.

 Day of the Dead

These families would celebrate with their deceased loved ones, as the barrier between the spirit world and the real world dissolves. It's even considered disrespectful to mourn their deaths, as death is a natural cycle of life that's treasured and honored. To bridge the border, families would construct ofrendas, also known as altars, to their homes and cemeteries. These altars would be decorated with various offerings, such as flor de Los Muerto (marigold petals), pan de Muerto (bread of the dead), their loved ones' favorite foods and drinks, and most notably, the Calaveras, or sugar skulls.

So, what is Day of the Dead truly all about? Disney's Pixar movie "Coco" certainly gave us unique insight into the holiday. The movie acknowledged the cultural history, its significance to Mexican families, and even took inspiration from mid-century luminary troubadours such as Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, all while combining the story with the universal themes of family and solidarity. The director and writer Lee Unkrich even consulted numerous Mexican-American volunteers on the story's nuances and corrected them in terms of the character's representation. This movie created a small node of Mexican and Latinx life in the minds of audiences across the world, and thus became the highest-grossing animated film in history.

To summarize, no matter where you come from, you'll end up as a skeleton like everyone else! On this day, the Mexican and Latinx communities remember their loved ones' lives by visiting their graves, decorating the ofrendas with flowers and skulls, and celebrating their lives with joy in their hearts. It’s an important tradition we encourage all of our followers to learn more about, and this year our November Sticker of the Month is a Devil Sugar Skull crafted by the incredibly talented Dirk Hayes. He comes for free with all purchases made in November while stocked, so appreciate Day of The Dead with a little Dime Bags love this year. 

October 29, 2020 — Jacki Stewart

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