Internationally, All Saints’ Day and The Day of the Dead have become notable dates. However, they are most commonly celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries.
In some regions of Latin America and Spain, we can observe different variations of these events; their respective customs, rituals, and even exquisite dishes may leave you with a great curiosity about Hispanic gastronomy.
But what exactly are these celebrations about? Why do they call it All Saints’ Day? And, is The Day of the Dead and All Saints’ Day the same?
Don’t worry! Here’s everything you need to know to immerse yourself in the rich culture that comes with learning Spanish.
Ready? Let the celebrations begin!
All Saints’ Day and The Day of the Dead, what’s the difference?
Like All Saints’ Day, The Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many countries. But, they are not all the same celebrations, and it is important to keep this in mind.
All Saints’ Day origins can be traced back to religion, a Catholic event which was established around the 4th century.
The purpose of this date is to celebrate all the saints, as per its name. Every individual who has left his mark in the history of Catholicism and has gone through a process of canonization has a place in this celebration.
After the saints are celebrated on November 1st, November 2nd commemorates the deceased in a celebration called The Day of the Dead.
This intriguing event seeks to celebrate the people who are no longer with us on this earthly plane and, according to tradition, will later accompany us from the spiritual plane.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Now let’s get to know how they are celebrated in different countries.
Celebrations in Spanish-speaking countries
All Saints’ Day and The Day of the Dead have various interesting ways of being celebrated in different countries, such as:
This region has been the least influenced by these celebrations. However, in countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia, some of the traditions are still maintained.
On All Saints’ Day, people usually go to church to attend a mass dedicated to this celebration. On The Day of the Dead, people visit their deceased relatives in the cemetery to bring them flowers and pray for their souls.
Going further into the center, All Saints’ Day and The Day of the Dead takes on a little more importance, and in countries such as Guatemala and Nicaragua, they are celebrated in style.
These countries commemorate All Saints’ Day with masses and altars in their homes. On The Day of the Dead in Nicaragua, people go to the cemeteries and sleep near the graves of their relatives. Also, they bring flowers and other offerings on the visit.
Unlike Nicaragua, in Guatemala, no one sleeps on the graves. In this country, they visit the cemetery and raise golden kites, which symbolize communication between the afterlife and the earthly world.
But… Would you stay overnight in the cemetery? It is undoubtedly an interesting way to celebrate this day.
Whilst Halloween reigns supreme in the United States, The Day of the Dead is also honoured throughout Mexico.
Even though they also celebrate All Saints’ Day, it is not nearly as important as November 2nd.
This special day is celebrated in Mexico with great offerings, photos, and objects that remember the deceased. Of course, the food is not far behind, and the banquets are laden with tamales, atole, mole, bread, and fruits, but it is the sweets that steal the show.
Pan de Muerto is undoubtedly the most widely used dessert for this date. This bread is moulded in the shape of a doughnut and is decorated with painted skulls and bones. The dish is usually accompanied by calabaza en tacha, calaveritas de chocolate y amaranto, and dulce de tejocote.
This date is so important for Mexicans that not only do they remember their deceased humans, but they also make altars for their deceased pets. Many times you can see offerings for family cats or dogs.
This is a touching celebration that is worth experiencing, even once in a lifetime.
As with the other countries, Spain is also surrounded by traditions to celebrate these special days.
While some of the most general customs are visiting cemeteries and bringing flowers to the deceased, they also celebrate other unique traditions.
One of these is the screening of José Zorrilla’s play, “Don Juan Tenorio”. The theaters fill up to see this famous play on both November 1st and the day preceding it.
Of course, the food is not lacking, but it is again the sweets that steal the show. Between buñuelos de viento, huesos de santo and dulce de membrillo, the table is filled and shared with family and friends.
The drinks are not left behind, and the nights close with nostalgic toasts in honor of the saints and the dead.
Get ready to celebrate these dates with Spanish Express!
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There is no better way to immerse yourself in a culture than to learn its language.
Imagine celebrating the Day of the Dead in Mexico and understanding this celebration in their language? Or going to the theater in Spain and enjoying “Don Juan Tenorio” in its original language?
When you speak more than one language, the adventures become almost infinite as the fascinating experiences you can have expand.
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