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Decorative Candy Skulls
NEW YORK - The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on Saturday celebrated Dia de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, in New York at the American Indian Museum Heye Center in Lower Manhattan.
Through years the honoring of indigenous ancestors have taken on various names, such as ghost suppers and even All Souls Days.
On Sunday, some members of the American Indian community in Chicago held a special service at the Kateri Center of Chicago to commemorate ancestors. Participants were encouraged to bring photos, prayer cards and other things representative of loved ones who have passed away.
The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500-3,000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.
Dia de los Muertos celebrates the cycle of life and death, which has been observed in Latin America. It is believed that during Dia de los Muertos the souls of the dead return to visit the living and this is cause for celebration.
The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. In most regions of Mexico, November 1 honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2.
Common holiday festivities include setting up ofrendas - an altar used to display portraits, foods, special possessions and memories of a loved one.
People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.
Mike Raccoon Eyes Contributed to this Article
posted October 31, 2011 11:30 am edt
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