The Mystery of Day of the Dead
Held each year on the evening of November 1st, Dia de los Muertos is an historic ritual celebrated primarily in Mexico, bringing together the living and the dead. Through the creation of altars, known as ofrenda, and other acts of kindness, the living offer their love and respect for those who have passed on.
In The Hour of Our Death, Phillip Aries wrote, "Generally speaking, the dead are not regarded as separate from the living.
They belong to the same unbroken family."
Bringing communities together, Dia de los Muertos is witnessed all over Mexico. Customs vary according to region; however there are observances commonly practiced country-wide. In the most widely celebrated, and favorite of Mexican holidays, it is impossible to not experience Dia de los Muertos in
some fashion while in Mexico. Elaborately decorated shop windows, families cleaning and decorating cemeteries, and temporary markets selling special bread, treats and toys seem to be everywhere.
The ritual of Dia de los Muertos, as we know it, has experienced a number of transformations in the last 500 years due to Spanish influence.
As the colonizing Spanish began enforcing Christianity throughout “New Spain,” any means possible to indoctrinate the indigenous populations were employed. Many readily accepted the beliefs of the more powerful Spanish, and many would not. However, the Christian holidays All Saints Day and All Souls Day seemingly synchronized with indigenous beliefs in that both cultures celebrated the immortal nature of the soul.
With the desire for a comprehensive understanding of Dia de los Muertos, photographer Nicholas Beatty has devoted several years to creating the photographs and resources presented here. There is hope that visitors of this site will find a new understanding of Dia de los Muertos, and learn to appreciate the different cultures and beliefs that make our planet as beautiful and interesting as it is.
"Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding."
- Albert Einstein