Meaning behind Dia de los Muertos altars

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Monday marks the first day of Dia de los Muertos, a traditional celebration for the Hispanic community.

Every year the holiday starts on November 1 and ends on November 2. The purpose of those two days is to reserve a time to reflect and remember loved ones who passed away. 

Although the holiday involves costumes and decorations, it is not the same as Halloween. 

Quinta Mazatlan’s Environmental Education Specialist, Lynette Castillo said the holiday helps give a different perspective on death. 

“A lot of times when it comes to the passing of a loved one or death it’s a bit of a sad thing and here we get to transition that, give it a new look and celebrate the life that they lived,” she said. 

When it comes to the decorations placed at an altar, they tend to be personalized and creative. 

Castillo said there is meaning behind altar decorations. Each altar has four elements that help it come to life: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air.

Castillo said papel picado represents movement and winds. Water helps replenish a soul’s thirst. Fire is represented by candles to help illuminate a soul’s path and Earth is represented by one of the most popular Hispanic culture pastries. 

“The Pan de Muerto is this really sweet little pastry, pan dulce decorated to look like skull and bones and it’s supposed to represent nourishment for the spirits as they make their journey,” said Castillo.  

In addition to reuniting with past loved ones, the holiday also helps families cherish the life they currently have.

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