More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death. It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate. A ritual known today as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Today, people wear whimsical “calacas” (skeletons) and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The calacas are also found on altars (or ofrendas) that are dedicated to the dead. The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth. The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the month long ritual.
Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake. To make the ritual more Christian, the Spaniards moved it so it coincided with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (Nov. 1 and 2), which is when it is celebrated today.
Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America.
Celebración del Día de los Muertos
You will be participating in the 2nd annual Día de los Muertos celebration in downtown Chula Vista. We will be working with Ms. Soler’s Spanish classes to create a community experience that educates others about the major components of Día de los Muertos and makes the celebration accessible to people of all ages.
You will have a chance to apply for one of the following departments/groups. Each department will be responsible for planning, preparing, putting together and executing different elements of the celebration.