El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead in English, is a unique Mexican holiday that has been gaining popularity outside of its native country for quite some time now. Take a look below for 12 strange and bizarre facts about the Day of the Dead.
1. Day of the Dead is not Mexico’s form of Halloween, contrary to what is often portrayed in popular culture. Although they have similarities and fall around the same time of the year, they each have their unique traditions and separate origins.
2. The holiday dates back over 2,000 years and has a rich and long history behind it. The religious practices of the Aztecs are where most of the traditions of the holiday come from today.
3. In Mexico, the holiday is more popular than Christmas, with many public events and intimate celebrations taking place. Some families in Mexico spend as much as two month’s income on decorations and food on this holiday!
4. Cleaning of the graves is one of the crucial functions of the holiday.
5. Cempazuchitl are the official flowers of the Day of the Dead. They are used to decorate graves and altars in massive quantities. It is known as Mexican Merigolds in English.
6. La Catrina is the most famous skeleton of all the skulls and skeletons found.
7. The practices of Day of the Dead can differ from region to region as not every place celebrates the holiday the same. For example, a tradition of a town called Pomuch is to remove the bones of one’s ancestors from tombs and “dust” or “wash” them by hand.
8. The famous holiday has even made it to Hollywood! It was a key influence behind the movies “Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride”.
9. The Day of the Dead is not only a national holiday in Mexico, but it has also been recognised by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
10. Spending a night inside a graveyard, sitting next to the grave of dead family members, telling stories and listening to music are all part of the celebration.
11. Like any special holiday, food plays a vital role in the Day of the Dead. Tamales and atole are some of the traditional meals, but people look most forward to the desserts.
12. Mexico City had never held a Day of the Dead parade before the now infamous James Bond scene filmed for Spectre, in which Daniel Craig casually strolls though the procession dressed in full Day of the Dead costume.