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What is Dia de los Muertos?

Dia de los Muertos.jpg
Posted at 7:06 AM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 21:45:38-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — We see the All Souls Procession every year and among the excitement, we see altars honoring loved ones that have passed on.

Lots of the traditions you’ll see at the procession are related to Dia de los Muertos. It’s a tradition that originated thousands of years ago, according to Michelle Tellez, University of Arizona Mexican American Studies Department.

One tradition you'll see is the ofrenda or an altar.

“The altar is the place where you, you know, where you velat, which means is where you honor those who have gone before us. So you include a photo of them, a candle [and you] include the four elements that represented in various or various artifacts”

Some of the most recognizable items on the altar are sugar skulls.

“[It[ represents the person that has departed, and you know, I've read, in ancient time seems to us to honor them on those alters but so the sugar souls would you know, represent each person," said Dominique Calza, University of Arizona Guerrero Center.

Calza goes on to introduce the muertos flor or cempasúchil.

“You put them on the altar is because you the smell is what attracts our, our relative spirits and animus to our offering. Right? So it's, it's kind of a representation of another thing that you're offering them to come be with you," said Calza.

Tellez says the biggest misconception about the celebration is that it’s a holiday like Halloween.

“Dia de los Muertos emerges out of a traditional indigenous ceremony known as Miccaihuitl. Miccaihuitl was a time to honor one's ancestors, and also a marking of a changing season and so it's just a sacred time,” said Tellez.