Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos)
A tradition that has crossed borders and unified the United States and Mexican cultures, started in Mexico around 1450 before the arrival of the Spaniards, as a day to remember the passing of loved ones by placing an offering. During this time the first offerings or altars to the deceased were placing over a stone at home an oil lamp to show the deceased the way back home and a seed known by the name of "Egrilla”. Over time the stone was replaced by a table covered with a black front, decorated with CEMPAZÚCHITL O CEMPOALXÓCHITL flowers. The name of these flowers comes from the nahuatl "due" twenty, and "xochitl" flower. It symbolizes the sun coming out victorious from the underworld, so it helps the deceased on their way to the other life. More elements were added throughout the years; the black front was replaced by, colorful paper and a white satin table cloth. The ancestors prepared beans, tortillas, sweet tamales and atole. Later on new elements were added to this unique tradition, such as candles, flowers and the deceased favorite food and drinks.
By the late 20th century in most regions of Mexico, practices had developed to honor dead children and infants also known as Día de los Angelitos (Day of the little angels) on November 1, and to honor deceased adults known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 2.
During the three day celebration of the day of the dead in Mexico, people visit the graves of their loved ones, place altars on their tombstones, light candles and take Cempazuchitl flowers. On November 2, the offerings on the altars play a prominent role, because through them the people remember deceased loved ones and share what they enjoyed in life.
This ancient tradition has become a popular celebration with a humorous twist, Death is mocked through different short poems called calaveras (skulls) describing interesting attitudes and funny anecdotes as well as colorful Calaveras and Catrina’s figurines for the festivities of love and celebration of death.
Many countries have joined in this tradition and more elements have been added to the celebration and, in Corpus Christi, Texas for the past six years, El Día de los Muertos Street Festival has grown to almost 35,000 in attendance. The festival has expanded to include two blocks of Starr Street and two blocks of Mesquite Street. There are three stages: one for popular Latin-influenced music, one for more traditional cultural performances and one for up-and-coming Texas bands. At the Kids’ Corner there are crafts, activities, games and a rock-climbing wall supplied by Kidz Ultimate Party Zone. Student Art Associations from Texas A& M University-Corpus Christi and Del Mar College provide demonstrations for the event. There also is an Hecho-a-Mano Art Expo featuring many Día de los Muertos themed craft items, jewelry and artworks by over 90 vendors.