By Mark Taylor
Following All Saints Day (November 1st) the public holiday of Finados” (Day of the Dead) is celebrated here in Brazil on November 2nd.
The idea is to remember the life of loved ones, so many people will go to cemeteries and churches, and take flowers, light candles, and pray. Despite the morbid subject the celebration is intended to be a positive one, and the day is set aside specifically to celebrate the life of, and remember those who are deceased.
The origins of this celebration are a little lost in time, but it’s a holiday that has been celebrated for thousands of years in Latin America and clearly stems from there. Most likely the origins are from cultures such as the Aztecs and Mayans who revered their ancestors, and wanted to honour their memory. It was a common practice to keep the skulls of ancestors as trophies, and then display them during rituals such as this and also those that symbolised birth. Hence skulls are a potent symbol still used in countries like Mexico.
The holiday is celebrated throughout Latin America, but is also celebrated in growing numbers in parts of the USA, principally those areas that have large Latin American immigrant populations.