Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead as it is known in English, is a Mexican holiday that takes place on 1 and 2 November every year to remember and honour family, friends and ancestors who have departed, thus celebrating the connection between life and death. Although the holiday consists of setting up altars, visiting cemeteries and artistic representations of skeletons and skulls, the mood is festive.
In 2021, Mexico celebrates the 700th anniversary of the foundation of Mexico City, the 500th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlán and the 200 years of the consummation of Mexico’s independence. This year’s exhibition is dedicated to the Aztec empire, highlighting how they celebrated the Day of the Dead which comprises of a feast from their harvest of beans, chickpeas, corn, and pumpkin. These foods were part of the offerings given to the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead.
The exhibition at The Salon of the National Museum will showcase two main elements:
- A 360-degrees pyramid of approximately 4m x 4m x 4m, and
- A market surrounding the pyramid
The pyramid is the central part of the exhibition as it will contain the main symbolisms of the celebration of Dia de Muertos to the Aztecs.
The Mesoamerican cultures, like the Aztecs, built pyramids, which were representations of sacred mountains that symbolized the center of the universe. The pyramid at the exhibition represents Tenochtitlan’s main pyramid, the Templo Mayor, or Main Temple. The Templo Mayor, or Main Temple, used to be in what now is the city centre of Mexico City. It was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1521, but an archeological site remains in present day’s historical centre.
The market display has two objectives: one is to bring together the Aztec celebration related to agriculture and, on the other hand, to showcase some of the fruits and vegetables originally from the territory of what is now Mexico, which through trade was brought to Spain and Europe, via the Atlantic, and to Asia via the Pacific trade with the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade route.