Dia de los Muertos did not originate as a Spanish celebration. In fact, indigenous people of South America had been celebrating Dia de los Muertos way before the Spaniards ever showed up on their shores. This celebration has actually been around for thousands of years. The original intent of the celebration was for the people to honor the dead and celebrate the New Year and harvest.
The Spaniards were none too thrilled with this celebration at first. Since it seemed somewhat barbaric they actually tried to get rid of the tradition all together. Fortunately for all of us, they were not successful. As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them!” This is exactly what the Spaniards did. Over the years, and the interlacing of the cultures, a new tradition evolved into what we know now as the Day of the Dead.
The tradition has evolved into a two-day celebration. One of the main events of the celebration is for families to honor the dead by gathering together at grave sides of family members and holding vigils while leaving flowers and candles. Some families may even leave special favorite meals and drinks of the deceased behind as a way of honoring them.
Probably the biggest spectacle of Dia de los Muertos is the parades that are held. Many floats and people dressed up in costume or as skeletons fill the streets. A display of fireworks occurs and the streets are lined with street side displays of dressed up skeletons.
If you have the chance, it is highly recommended that you find a way to experience the tradition of Dia de los Muertos at least once in your life! If you really want to maximize your experience you should think about learning some Spanish. Knowing the Spanish language will really allow you to fully experience everything a trip like this has to offer.