Day of the Dead, the history of a tradition

Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that reminds us that death is part of the cycle of life, and as such, we must embrace it.

This celebration dates back to the pre-Hispanic era, with many Mesoamerican ethnic groups worshiping death in that period. In Mexico, the Mexicas believed in Mictecacíhuatl and Mictlantecuhtli, Gods of the “Place of the dead” or Mictlan, and they were believed to define the destiny of the souls of those who passed away.

Once in the Mictlan realm, souls had to overcome several obstacles before achieving eternal rest. According to the Florentine Codex, this place reserved special chambers for the deceased, depending on the causes of their dead. For instance, warriors who died on the battlefields were received in the Tonatiuh Ichan or “house of the sun”, while infants—who died being innocent—were welcomed at the Cincalco, home of the god Tonacatecutli.

For Mexicas, the journey of the souls was accompanied by the living, announcing the death with cries led by the older women. The deceased was then shrouded with all personal belongings and symbolically fed with the most exquisite delicacies.

After four days, the body was buried or cremated to finally start the journey to the land of the dead. Every year for four consecutive years, the deceased would be celebrated with big ceremonies held right where the ashes or body was resting. This ritual was believed to help souls reach eternity and ease the pain through the grieving process for the living.

With the arrival of European customs and traditions, this ritual suffered an acculturation process and started to be celebrated during the All Saints Day festivities deriving in what we know today, with some of the original elements still present, like the altars. The beauty, mysticism, and cultural value of this festivity have earned it a place in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2008.

If you are visiting Solmar Hotels & Resorts during Day of the Dead festivities, you will find amazing altars and activities going on on-site to feast your eyes and your palate:

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