Comic: The real history behind Día de Muertos

Papel picado above a Día de Muertos altar
(Kimberly Trigueros / For De Los)
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Most of us know what Día de Muertos is but are unfamiliar with the history behind the tradition that is now celebrated each year. Being aware of the history is just as important as the festivities. Throughout my process in this project, I have learned more about our ancestors and how the conquista really changed what could have been a different future for us.

Día de los Muertos celebration comes from our ancestors, pre-colonial times.  Death was not seen as an end but a journey.
It was believed that upon dying, a person would travel to Mictlán, the land of the dead.
Family members provided food, water and tools to help the dead in the journey.
These ofrendas included real skulls, candles, incense, cempazuchitl, food and water
After the conquest, the Spaniards were shocked at the rituals they saw and brought in their own beliefs through catholicism.
Europeans saw death as a final judgment, filled with sadness and fear.
Celebrations and rituals were changed. Nov. 1 and 2 were marked as the official days to celebrate the dead.
Día de Muertos remained a religious celebration after the Reform War.
Through time the celebration has become more symbolic and personalized to each family and region.
Although every family celebrates in their own way, the meaning behind it stays the same.

Kimberly Trigueros is a Chicana illustrator and mother from Southern California.