Latin American Traditions: Altars And Dia De La Muertos

October, 2019 · By elsabron Leave Comment

Halloween in America is vastly different from Dia De La Meurtos In Latino Countries. While both focus on themes that encompass death, they have vastly different purposes. In the United States Halloween has taken on a secular commercialized nature. It features costumes but looks at death in almost brash jestful way, making caricatures of scary costumes and celebrating the holiday with movies that are designed to scare you, all from the safety of a theater or couch.

latin customs

Dia Del La Muertos follows lays down a sharp contrast to the playfulness and commercialism of this type of Halloween. First it starts the day after Halloween. It is not about fun, parties, scary movies, or a playful view of death. It focuses on a more spiritual aim. The goal is to honor deceased love ones. It is a sacred holiday that is about family and celebrating their lives.

There are many traditions surrounding this holiday. One tradition that is prominent is the use of altars to honor loved ones. The altar is a good symbol of the true purpose of this holiday. The altar is an offering place where family and friends make offerings to honor deceased relatives. You most often see these at the graveside or in homes.

latin traditions

Altars:

Families construct altars at home and at gravesites to honor those that have passed. This can include a myriad of things like

  • Sweets
  • Photos
  • Symbolic items
  • Flowers
  • Bread
  • Candles
  • Tamales
  • Dolls
  • Assorted Toys

These can be very elaborate but it represents how different Dia De La Muertos is from American Halloween. The focus is on honoring and celebrating the departed. The altars are not necessarily designed to be sad. They are there to celebrate life in a tasteful way. Different Latin American or South American countries have different traditions that they do for this somber yet peaceful holiday. Regardless, you will see alters at many of them.

 


References

Day of the Dead altars: What’s on a traditional version. (2016, October 3). Retrieved from https://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/holidays/day-of-the-dead/2016/10/03/day-of-the-dead-dia-de-los-muertos-altars/91511520/

Day of the Dead. (2001, October 28). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead

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