• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

DÍa de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

The roots of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos lie in practices of ancestor veneration that have long existed in Mesoamerican cosmologies. Such beliefs correspond closely to African traditions linking the living with the dead, and like their indigenous counterparts, many African Mexican communities adopted the festival in a syncretistic form as a means to draw strength from the ancestral spirits to endure enslavement or to seek freedom through escape.

This entry describes the origins of the holiday, some of its major traditions and ceremonies, and African adaptations to this sacred festival.

Origins of the Holiday

Evidence for ancestor veneration in Mesoamerican spiritual belief and practice extends back millennia. In pre-Hispanic times, contact was maintained between the dead and their living descendants, ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles