This weekend brings us Dia de los Muertos, or "the Day of the Dead," a Mexican celebration of the dead that have passed on into the next world.
According to National Geographic, the holiday recognizes death as “a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community.” It’s believed that during the holiday our beloved dead join us to become the fun, invisible and highly honored guests to the party.
The holiday is traditionally spread over the first two days in November. By region it is celebrated in different ways. For some the first day is called Dia de los Inocentes, and it honors the children that have died. The next day is Dia de los Muertos officially, and it honors adults who have passed on.
The holiday has become something of a companion piece to Halloween, where most revelers stay in costume at least one more day. The altars, the sugar skulls, and the makeup are its hallmarks, along with festive parties. Compared to the holiday that comes the day before, it’s brightly colored and joyous.
The holiday is now a big part of American pop culture, with even non-Hispanics getting sugar skull tattoos decorating their homes with customary iconography. What was once a distinctly Latin American tradition has now made inroads across all societal boundaries.
Of course there is an article up on the Huffington Post decrying the perceived disrespectful appropriation of the holiday for party hardy needs. Some Anglos, the article posits, treat it like Cinco De Mayo with nary a thought of the heritage behind it. Katy Perry in the corpse paint is probably something not to worry about. It’s not Halloween, the author emphasizes, but somehow some assume it is.
In multicultural Houston, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated with mini music festivals, bar events, community center bashes, and plenty of food and drink (especially drink).
It won't be hard to find sugar skulls aplenty and people of all ages in makeup on Saturday honoring their departed loved ones.