Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, dates back to the pre-Columbian times of Meso America’s indigenous people, including the Aztecs, Mayans, Purepechas, and Totonacs. The cultural belief deems that as long as the dead are remembered by family and friends they continue to live, the celebration of the dead allows the collective memory to thrive and cultures to evolve. Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, and preparations begin in mid-October when markets and shops are filled with all the items needed to welcome the departed souls back to earth. Calacas (skeletons), calaveras (skulls), toys, papel picado (tissue paper cut outs), candles, copal (incense), cempasuchitls (marigolds), crosses decorated with paper or silk flowers, and edible goodies such as decorated sugar or chocolate skulls, and skull shaped pan de muerto (bread of the dead) are easily found and ready to adorn the ofrendas (altars) and graves of the departed. On October 31st, graves are cleaned and decorated, for the holiday special foods and meals are prepared in celebration and offering, and always – a plate set for the deceased.
Note: Be sure to visit Masks y Mas in Albuquerque for your supplies.