Day of the Dead History

How Did El Día de Los Muertos Start

Many people ask me: What is the Day of the Dead history? I imagine like me, they celebrated but didn’t know much about this particular Hispanic holiday that started in Mexico hundreds of years ago.

That is when I started reading about it and learned that the real piece of history behind this holiday started with the Aztecs. This Aztec celebration was presided over by the Lady of the Dead named Mictecacihuatl, and included many rituals dedicated to her and to the god of war Huitzilopochtli.

Did you know Day of the Dead or “El Día de los Muertos” in Mexico used to be about a month celebration? Yes, it fell on the month of Miccailhuitontli, the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar. This month probably corresponds to July 24 through August 12.

Today El Día de los Muertos starts on October the 31st and ends on November the 2nd. The original dates of the festivity evolved after the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico.


Day of the Dead History

The Catholic Dominicos came to Oaxaca to evangelize the land and unified the Aztec celebration with the religious festivities of El Día de Todos Los Santos or “All Saints Day” on November 1st, and El Día de Todos Los Muertos or “All Souls Day” on November 2nd.

“El Día de los Muertos” is a 3-day celebration that calls upon the spirits of our ancestors to invite them to live among us, therefore honoring them is a must.

The ánimas or spirits of the deceased have permission from the dead world to come visit us. The dead comeback attracted by their previous homes, belongings and the love they feel from their families.

October 31st marks the ending of the preparations for the 2 first days of November when we celebrate El Dia de los Muertos.

November 1st is the day to give family and friends a sample of the food offerings that make the ofrenda de muertos or the deceased offerings. “Day of the Dead


Altar at the Grave
Picture by Zocalo2010

bread” is an item that is always present in this offering. Also in this day we honor los angelitos or the deceased children. On November 2nd we honor the deceased adults.

We also celebrate El Día de los Muertos in the U.S. with parades and special events in galleries throughout Chicago, California, Texas, New York and New Mexico.

To celebrate this holiday many Mexican-Americans and Hispanics build at home what we call the altar, which is an arrangement that contains many representative items of the dead person we want to honor.

Day of the Dead Altars


Part of Day of the Dead history are the skulls and altars, where families place all the offerings for the deceased. The altars can be at home or on top of the grave, and the decorations of the Altars vary in accordance to each region of Mexico where people celebrate the holiday.

Day of the Dead altars are generally on a table that we cover with a table cloth, a white sheet, or simple cut paper. We tie pieces of sugar cane or carrizos in the shape of an arch to the legs of the table to welcome the deceased.

We place offerings at the altar, on the morning of October 31st, and while we prepare the Day of the Dead altar, we remember all our deceased family members.This is one of the best holidays to have fun Hispanic style. Crafts, decorations and traditions all come alive during El Dia de los Muertos!

I started celebrating this holiday after my son was born. Honestly, I want to keep him close to his Latino roots.

Then, many people started asking me about this holiday, so I created this 65-page Dia de los Muertos skull coloring and sugar skull making guide.

  • It includes a complete background of the holiday, and a separate section for the meaning of calacas and skulls in Day of the Dead and their purpose in the altars.
  • This is not only for teachers! I created this eBook because I knew many moms like me, love to create projects at home like we do. This is for parents and teachers (complete lesson plans for children K+).
  • This is my favorite part of the book: 26 UNIQUE Day of the Dead black and white friendly printable skull designs that you won’t find anywhere. They are standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper, but you can print them ANY size you want!
  • Step-by-step guide of how-to make sugar skulls WITH original pictures and tips to follow the process easily.

Buy YOUR Day of the Dead Skull Coloring &
Sugar Skull Making eBook NOW

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And get immediate access to your 65-page How-to-Guide to Celebrate and Teach El Dia de los Muertos with:
*26 unique 8 1/2″ x 11″ printable Day of the Dead skulls
*Sugar skull making instructions
*Complete lesson plans
All DONE, Just Download and Print. That’s all!

Buy NOW for $17.99

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