Preparations in Guadalajara and its surrounding areas were well underway this week for Mexico’s most surreal festival – “El Dia de los Muertos.”
The Day of the Dead, as it is known in English, is based on pre-Columbian religious rituals, with the earliest celebrations traced back as far as 2,500-3,000 years ago. The tradition is thought to have originated from an Aztec ceremony dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl.
The Aztecs, for whom human sacrifice was common practice, considered death just another stage of life. With the spilling of blood deemed essential for maintaining the balance of life and ensuring that the sun continued to rise each day, it was only natural for them to celebrate death.
Following the conquest of Mexico, the Spanish conquistadores sought to merge the festival with All Souls Day as part of their attempts to evangelize the indigenous population. They were never entirely successful and every year on November 2 many Mexicans still give offerings to honor and remember deceased friends and family. (Children are remembered on November 1 – All Saints Day.)