What is Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead?
- 384,792 Views
- 1,294 Questions Answered
- Best of Web
The centerpiece of the celebration is an altar, or ofrenda, built in private homes and cemeteries. These aren’t altars for worshipping; rather, they’re meant to welcome spirits back to the realm of the living.
Calavera was used to describe short, humorous poems, which were often sarcastic tombstone epitaphs published in newspapers that poked fun at the living and are a popular part of the celebrations. Mexican political cartoonist and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada created an etching to accompany a literary calavera. In 1947, artist Diego Rivera featured Posada’s stylized skeleton in a mural and named her Catrina, slang for “the rich.” Today, the calavera Catrina, or elegant skull, is the Day of the Dead’s most ubiquitous symbol.
Watch these recommended TED-Ed Lessons:
The Egyptian Book of the Dead: A guidebook for the underworld
Ancient Egyptians believed that in order to become immortal after death, a spirit must first pass through the underworld — a realm of vast caverns, lakes of fire, and magical gates. Needless to say, one needed to come prepared. But how? Tejal Gala describes an Egyptian "Book of the Dead" -- a customized magic scroll written by the living to promote a smooth passage to the afterlife when they died.
How to make a mummy
As anyone who’s seen a mummy knows, ancient Egyptian priests went to a lot of trouble to evade decomposition. But how successful were they? Len Bloch details the mummification process and examines its results thousands of years later.
At what moment are you dead?
For as far back as we can trace our existence, humans have been fascinated with death and resurrection. But is resurrection really possible? And what is the actual difference between a living creature and a dead body anyway? Randall Hayes delves into the scientific theories that seek to answer these age-old questions.
The fascinating history of cemeteries
Spindly trees, rusted gates, crumbling stone, a solitary mourner: these things come to mind when we think of cemeteries. But not long ago, many burial grounds were lively places, with gardens and crowds of people -- and for much of human history, we didn’t bury our dead at all. How did cemeteries become what they are today? Keith Eggener delves into our ever-evolving rituals for honoring the dead.
Create and share a new lesson based on this one.