Los Dias De Los Muertos

Each autumn, Monarch butterflies from the northern reaches of Canada and the United States migrate to Mexico, where they winter until warmer weather allows their return. In long tradition, the local population welcomes back the returning butterflies, which they believe bear the spirits of their departed. The spirits are honored in a celebration called Los Dias de los Muertos- 'The Days of the Dead'. It is not a morbid occasion, but a festive time marked with mourning along with happiness and joy.

Los Dias de Los Muertos is a time for remembering friends, family and ancestors. Much like Memorial Day up north, families here visit, clean, and decorate graves of loved ones for the November 1st and 2nd  holidays. It is celebrated every year at the same time as Halloween and the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. It is believed that the spirit of the dead visit their families on October 31st and leave on November 2nd. In most places, November 1st is set aside for remembrance of deceased infants and children, often referred to as angelitos (little angels). Those who have died as adults are honored November 2nd.  Family members gather at the cemetery for gravesite reunions more festive than sad. In the cemetery, all family burial plots are elaborately decorated in the hope of luring departed spirits.

"At 2 p.m. November 1st, relatives gather at each tomb to mourn the loss of loved ones with la llorada–'the weeping'. Later, when dark would normally envelop the graveyard, the glow of thousands of votive candles illuminates the way for the departed. At midnight, they are called home with the mournful tolling of bells. Then each soul is lovingly remembered with recitations of the rosary."

All are there to greet the spirits as they return to the home for 24 hours each year.


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