How Does Peru Celebrate Día de los Muertos?
Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is celebrated in many Latin American countries. Let’s take a closer look at Peru and what we can learn from how they treat those who have passed.
When thinking about Día de los Muertos, the first thing that often comes to mind is Mexico, with its colorful skulls & costumes. It’s not a surprise that these are also the first results on Google Images. But if you add the word “Peru”, it looks a whole lot different.
Peru is a country that has been touched by various indigenous cultures, each practicing their own death rituals according to their beliefs about the afterlife, long before the Catholic Church spread across Latin America. Día de los Muertos is celebrated on November 2nd, following Día de los Santos (All Saints’ Day). Peruvians with indigenous heritage believe that on this particular day the souls of the deceased visit the earth. Therefore, families come together and visit cemeteries in remembrance of their deceased loved ones.
However, this remembrance is nothing like you might imagine. The general mood is not filled with sadness, mourning, or silence. Rather, it is a large and colorful celebration. Families bring food, drinks, chairs, and picnic blankets to the cemetery. They sit around the grave barbecuing, drinking, chatting and laughing. There is even live music, as people like to play the favorite songs of those who have passed away. The Peruvians believe that there is no better way to feel close to their deceased loved ones than by cheerfully celebrating, talking about good memories, and honoring their lives.
This attitude of celebrating the life of the dead is also represented in Peru’s unusual tombstones. Instead of a simple stone that states basic facts about a person (name, birth date, and death date), Peruvian families often decorate a small glass box to reflect the person’s life and personality:
As Banksy said, “…you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” In Peru, celebrating and cherishing the lives of those who have passed away ensures that they remain alive in our hearts and thoughts.