Day of the Dead - Is this a religious event?

I always thought the celebration of the Day of the Dead was a religious event.

In looking it up… mention of goddesses, inviting the spirits of the dead back to earth for a visit.

True?

From a Catholic perspective this is not a good thing… Right?

Input please…

Right.

Right. Not a good thing. Do you expect debate on this point?

No… not expecting a debate. Rather insight to the holiday.

It’s a holiday I never really pay attention to. My only observations was that it just happens to coincide with Halloween… .However, it’s been rather heavily promoted in my area. Thought I would learn a bit more about it. In case I’m in the position to need to explain participation or the lack thereof…

I’ll also mention… In my community, this is celebrated primarily by the Hispanic population. Much of which is Catholic.

How is this not a conflict of their beliefs?

It’s origins are from the Aztecs who celebrated the day in honor of a goddess. But it has morphed into something different in the Mexican culture.

This, from wiki:

*Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday observed throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the triduum of Allhallowtide: All Hallows’ Eve, Hallowmas, and All Souls’ Day.[1][2] Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world. In Brazil Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain there are festivals and parades and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.*

Yes, I was reading the wiki site as well. Not sure it’s a great explanation or not.

That said, it seems to go further… that the foods and such are an invitation for the dead to come visit. Leaving blankets for their rest and such.

Which is really the piece that doesn’t settle well. But perhaps, it’s a holiday that’s lost much of its original intent? I don’t know.

As a Catholic, obviously I don’t take issue praying for the dead.

All Saints Day and All Souls Day are Catholic holidays. Halloween and ‘Day of the Dead’ obviously have pagan connections mixed in. There is much reading about this on the Catholic Answers website.

The Day of the Dead was an old Festival of the Mexican Indians; therefore the goddesses, etc.

Because it coincided with All Hallows, the Spaniards co-opted it as part of the Christianization of Mexico.

Although it has become a part of Catholic Mexico, it is not really observed beyond the southern half of that country.

ICXC NIKA

Pretty much this. An example of religious syncretism.

I never hear anyone today bring up a goddess when celebrating Days of the Dead, though in old Aztec days honoring the dead she was a factor.

It is a day to remember and honor the dead, and we do prepare meals and leave offerings for the souls of our beloved dead family members and friends, believing that they visit with us for this short time.

Graves are cleaned, painted and decorated. Ofrendas are made, often in the home, with photos of the loved ones and elaborate decorations. There are traditional decorations and foods. Often crosses and other symbols of faith are included as well.

Another aspect of Days of the Dead is dealing with our own mortality. Poking fun at death, while also embracing it as part of the cycle of life.

So there is a solemn holy aspect, and a fun celebratory aspect with decorations, music and feasting.

It shares that aspect with Christmas…there being the solemn holy part, and along side it the joy and feasting.

Thanks… Everyone…

=faithfully;12451019]I always thought the celebration of the Day of the Dead was a religious event.

In looking it up… mention of goddesses, inviting the spirits of the dead back to earth for a visit.

True?

From a Catholic perspective this is not a good thing… Right?

Input please…

Sounds like a intended knock off of ALL SAINTS Day

And NO what they are doing is a gravely BAD thing.

No, it existed in Mexico from Indian times.

It was taken into Mexican Catholicism, but Is mostly unknown elsewhere.

ICXC NIKA

=GEddie;12452339]No, it existed in Mexico from Indian times.

It was taken into Mexican Catholicism, but Is mostly unknown elsewhere.

ICXC NIKA

THANKS:thumbsup:

I don’t understand why this should be controversial for any Catholic, unless you have issues with Christmas trees, Easter egg painting, etc. The history of Christianity is replete with examples of pagan practices and customs being “baptized” and brought into Christian practice.

Two reasons why some might be bothered:

----DOTD is obscure outside of lower Mexico; even north Mexicans do not celebrate it. Outside that region, it might seem creepy in the extreme.

----Because the pagan origins are more recent, DOTD brings paganism closer than Easter eggs and the like.

ICXC NIKA

I assure you it’s not obscure.

There are many places in the USA where it is observed, people bring their culture with them.

My relatives in various parts of the country say that people are sitting up with the dead in cemeteries near them, with candles, music etc.

The belief is that the spirits of our dead loved one’s come back to visit. Offerings of food, drink and sometimes clothing or blankets are left for them, to show love and welcoming.

We do believe they are here with us, and can feel our love.

Some people leave offerings on the roadside for spirits who have no family, or lost wandering souls so they will stay outside and only the spirits of the loved one’s enter the home.

I would think that some of these practices are not in keeping with the Catholic faith.

The “Day of the Dead” observance is a local - mostly Hispanic - cultural form of an ancient Catholic discipline for obtaining a plenary indulgence for a poor soul in purgatory. This discipline is still in force and was re-stated and encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI.

I On All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2) a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit any parish church or public oratory and there recite one Our Father and one Credo.

II On all the days from November I though November 8 inclusive, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit a cemetery and pray even if only mentally for the departed.

** Conditions for both indulgences:

  1. Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.

  2. It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by the time the work is completed.

  3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)

  4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.

  5. Prayers must he recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed. One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.

  6. A sacramental concession must he made within a week of completion of the prescribed work. (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)**

I have attended the Day of the Dead observance in the Philippines (a partly Spanish culture). It is a solemn, yet joyful event. On November 1, the family of the deceased gathers from all over the country and beyond. They fast during the day, then go to the graveyard at night, carrying a lot of food. They clean and decorate the graves of their departed family members. Then at midnight (Nov 2) they light candles and pray for the departed and for the intentions of the Holy Father - often the rosary is recited. Then they break the fast, share their food and the older folks tell stories about the departed to remember them and to help the children know the ancestors whom they have never met. I found this to be a very uplifting and beautiful celebration and a wonderful tool for building family unity and identity.

If there are graves that are unattended (Catholic or not), friends from different families will form small teams to clean and decorate them. No one is left out of the observance.

I also saw many old friends who had not seen each other for a long time meet and exchange food, good wishes and prayers between their families. It is really something to behold - and very Catholic.

Paul

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