Every November 1st and 2nd hundreds of thousands of people around the world - primarily in Mexico, Southwestern United States, and parts of  Canada- celebrate the Day of the Dead or la Dia de los Muertos.  Originally the ceremonies and celebrations were observed for two months by Native Mexicans and Aztecs.  November 1st and 2nd were eventually embraced by the Catholic Church, which incorporated, down-sized and renamed these days All Souls Day and All Saints Day.  Aztecs and most other Mexican people alike celebrate this holy day to remember their ancestors and loved ones who have passed on.  Many other cultures on most continents of the world have similar ceremonies honoring their dead.

Day of the Dead Performance

As surprising as it may sound, laughter is often heard on the Day of the Dead.  People who celebrate this holiday often emphasize the good times, and tell humors anecdotes about those who have passed on.  According to this tradition, there is no reason to fear death. It is not a grim finality, but part of the continuous, never-ending cycle of the universe.  Acknowledgement,  remembrance, and communication are intrinsic to this celebration. 

On the Day of the Dead, it is believed that the living are able to commune and communicate with the dead, a tremendous source of comfort for people who dearly miss those who have passed on.  At home, families set out blankets, pillows, towels, and a bowl of water to welcome returning souls who come to visit.  Favorite food and toys are displayed and offered to the dead, and traditional candied caleveras, or candied skulls, are a common sight.  On these days, people gather at the grave sites of their loved ones to clean debris and decorate the area, most often with marigolds flowers.  Marigold flowers’ bright color and the smell of copal incense smoke is believed to help the souls find their way. 

The Omeyocan Dance Company has created a special Aztec show, based on Aztec mythology, to celebrate the Day of the Dead.  To start the sequence, dancers perform the Battle Dance which features two Aztec warriors.  When one of the warriors perishes, his soul is greeted by another soul who leads him to his next life in the Aztec underworld of Mictlan, where the dead dwell.  The sequence ends when the souls who reside in Mictlan perform the Day of the Dead Dance.  This special show also includes two Mexican folk dances -La Danza de los Diablos (The Devil Dance) from the state of  Oaxaca , and La Bruja (The Witch) from the state of Veracruz - and presents an interesting way to celebrate and learn about a related holiday in the United States: Halloween.