Celebrating Día de Todos Los Santos
Have you ever heard of Día de Todos Los Santos? Día de Todos Los Santos, or All Saints Day, is a unique holiday where individuals celebrate those who have passed away with big celebrations, flowers, and by visiting their graves. At first glance, many people think that this celebration is the same as Mexico’s Day of the Dead. But as we dive deep into Día de Todos Los Santos, you’ll see how unique and different this tradition really is!
This holiday is a fusion of Mayan, Spanish, and Catholic cultures. Traditions for celebrating the deceased varied within Mayan culture but for the most part, they held elaborate rituals with food. For example, some Mayans would begin fasting and giving their food to the deceased to ensure safe passage, but others sat down and ate a meal alongside the grave.
On the other hand, Spanish Catholics celebrated those who obtained saintly status by adorning graves and making special meals. When the Spanish arrived in Guatemala, they attempted to eliminate their culture. However, as time passed, these cultures came together and gave life to this current tradition with vital elements from each line of ancestry.
Día de todos los Santos is a lively and colorful celebration taking place for one day. Some of the unique traditions they have include:
These seriously giant (some around 40 feet long), colorful, and intricate kites fill up the Guatemalan cemetery skies. As they float in the sky, their intricate designs celebrate current Guatemalan culture and honor their ancestors, especially the Mayans. These kites are synonymous with the holiday and symbolize the exile of evil spirits and a connection with deceased family members. Barriletes take weeks to make and require several people to launch them into the air! Watch them come to life in this video.
It is a traditional dish only made on this holiday. Eating fiambre is founded on the ancient Mayan traditions of celebrating the deceased. Once a year, some Mayans would visit the graves of their dead family and friends and eat a meal with them at their graves. Families take days to make Fiambre together, and on Día de todos Los Santos, they can finally enjoy it together. Recipes for Fiambre vary, and there are three different types: white, red, and divorced, containing both white and red. It is a mix of eggs, cheese, meat, vegetables, and a pickling sauce.
Carreras de las Ánimas
In this tradition, men will participate in a horse race. They dress in elaborate costumes filled with colorful ribbons and race their horses through skinny dirt roads and up steep mountains. It is considered a spiritual ritual to honor the deceased. Watch a race in this video!
The last but most crucial tradition is decorating the tombs of the deceased. Families will go to the graves on November 1st to carefully clean and adorn the final resting place. Flowers, palms, and candles are also placed around graves to welcome the deceased.
At Casa, we love celebrating this holiday because we get to teach our little ones how beautiful cultures from around the world truly are. We celebrate by teaching children about this holiday and building our own kites. We display these kites around our center so that parents can also enjoy this holiday.