Art

Mexican Day of the Dead Celebrations Bring Creativity to Life

A celebration of mixing pre-Hispanic customs, like human sacrifice and Catholicism.

by Luis Carreño
31 October 2015, 12:00pm

@vladimiroga

The Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead is a mixture of symbols and practices of the pre-Hispanic indigenous and Spanish missionaries. Led by Saint Francisis of Assisi in the 16 century, the observence tradition is celebrated with flashes of syncretism. It is important to note that the Dead altars in Mesoamerican cultures were made under another context concerning death, where a large part of the celebration was combined with human sacrifices made to feed and worship the gods.

Today, the evolutions of these offerings retain some elements of the prehispanic: versions made are within a circle of salt or lime "used for purification materials," divided into four parts that relate with the cardinal points and the four elements. Inside the circle, belongings and personal objects of the deceased and their favorite food and drinks are placed; the marigold flower and fire are considered spiritual guides for the deceased. The colors of the offerings vary with different symbols related to life, strength, transformation, destruction, etc.

Below is a selection of the brightest and best Instagram offerings, sculptures, illustrations, and even pastries, in Mexico through November 2:

Jose Guadalupe Posada was an emblematic skeleton creator best known for drawing connections between his skeleton figures and the caricatures the Mexican upperclass. Many of the dead manifestations of the season have been influenced by Guadalupe Posada’s traditional image of the Catrina (skeleton). @tabacoac

@ruiz.mario

@maitesmg

The delicate handiwork of offerings on the floor date back to Mesoamerican practices and customs. Much like mandalas these circles of life recreate versions of fire, flowers, and meanings related to power and protection. @joaquincarre

@luisillobetillo

Tribute to Friedrich Nietzsche. @estefaniabeck91

@esgustavo

@danielr_serrano

@ericabuist

@cmexicana

Family tribute at the National Museum of Popular Culture. @calaveramtz

@alma_gabi

An offering made on sawdust with marigold petaks and seeds.

A version of this article originally appeared on The Creators Project Mexico. 

Related:

Rare Screening: Charles and Ray Eames' 1957 Documentary On The Day of the Dead Festival

From Hungry Ghosts To Wicker Men, Halloween Designs From Around The Globe

GIF Six Pack: World Emoji Day