Latin American Holidays

Topics: Biblical Magi, Jesus, Star of Bethlehem Pages: 5 (1592 words) Published: February 10, 2014

El Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead):
When the Spaniards first arrived in Mexico more than 500 years ago, they encountered the native people (Aztecs) practicing a ritual that appeared to mock death. The native people had been practicing this ritual for over 3,000 years prior to the Spaniards arrival. At first, the Spaniards attempted to convert the natives to Catholicism and eradicate this ritual; however, they were unsuccessful. Instead, the ritual has been merged with Catholic theology, and it is now known as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Today, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico, Central America, and parts of the United States. In the Spaniards attempt to make the ritual more Catholic, they moved the date to November 1 and 2, which is when All Saints Day and All Souls Day are celebrated. Originally, the ritual was held during the ninth month of the Aztec calendar (August) and lasted throughout the whole month.

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated differently depending on where one is celebrating it. Originally, the natives would keep skulls as trophies that would be displayed throughout the ritual. These skulls were used to honor the dead and to symbolize death and rebirth. The natives believed that life was a dream and they were truly awakened when they died. Although Dia de los Muertos is still celebrated to honor the dead, the rituals are strikingly different today. Skulls are still vital to the ritual, but they are wooden carved or sugar sculptured skulls. In addition, in rural Mexico, people visit the graves of loved ones they have lost, decorating the gravestone with candles and flowers. They cook the favorite food of the deceased and sit beside they gravestone and eat. In urban Mexico and the United States, families of deceased build altars in their homes that are dedicated to the dead. The altars are surrounded with flowers, pictures, and candles. They also cook the favorite food of the deceased and eat 1. The following link displays photos of Dia de los Muertos skeletons/skulls and decorated gravestones: Carnaval (Brazil):

Across Brazil, the people celebrate with a festival known as Carnaval. Carnaval is celebrated from the Friday to Tuesday right before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, in which Catholics go without from eating meat. The name Carnaval comes from carnelevare, meaning “to remove meat”, which is fitting for the time of this celebration. The Carnaval celebration is meant to say goodbye to certain things for the season of religious repentance during Lent.

During Carnaval, parades are held across Brazil. Costumes and participation are present in all parades, but the types of costumes and participation vary depending on the region of the country. For these six days, parades fill the streets with people singing and dancing along with them. In Rio de Janeiro, the parades are filled with groups that wear costumes with a special theme or logo and dance. Also, musicians fill the parade, playing different styles of music from the area. Recently, this celebration has gotten huge, bringing in huge crowds, including foreigners 6. The following link includes a video slideshow of pictures from the parade in Rio in 2013: La Quema Del Diablo (Guatemala):

Each year, in Guatemala, December 7 is known as a La Quema Del Diablo (The Burning of the Devil), a tradition that originated back in colonial times. Originally, the people would put lanterns on the front of their homes and burn them in anticipation of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Those who could not afford lanterns would burn their trash in front of their homes instead. Throughout the years, the tradition was formalized and whole communities would burn The Devil to prepare for Mary’s feast, so the Devil would not interfere with the...
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