Why Day of the Dead Summons More Than Wrestling With Principalities
Every year on November 2, the first thing that comes to my mind is Day of the Dead. Here is what it means:
“The Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday occurs in connection with the Catholic holidays that fall on November 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. On the Day of the Dead, more accurately called the cult of the dead, friends and family members of those who have died gather together to pray for them and bring to their graves the deceased’s favorite foods, often including the traditional sugar skulls and the bread of death. Private altars honoring the deceased are created, and homage is given to them. Origins of the holiday have been traced back thousands of years to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl.” (Source)
I know, I know, many would say that this is just fun, a commemoration of ancestors, of loved ones that are no longer here. How bad can that be? There is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting around a table and remembering Tias or primos who have died or to look through photos or videos of those that are no longer living. However, it is another thing altogether to build altars, bring gifts of food, place cups of water near photos of the dead (in case their ghost needs refreshment) or the like, as these practices are forbidden by God.
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
My family comes from Mexico. I have relatives, loved ones living there still, whom I’ve met at some point, or whom I haven’t yet. But as Corinthians so boldly says above, my attempts at blogging, at participating in Facebook or any other social media, is to “shine light unto them” who have been blinded by the enemy of God. We who have the gospel are responsible for sharing God’s truth with the world, even if it costs us rejection, or severs ties with those we know, who don’t know Him.
Because we know that God has given Satan power over the earth, we need to be more vigilant now more than ever before.
During this time of year especially—whether we take it lightly, or take it with great caution—the unfruitful works of darkness come out in full force to pull the wool over the eyes of all who do not believe in the Lord. The enemy is equally clever at persuading believers to compromise their faith and warm up to his deceptions. For this reason, I want to explain why I won’t be celebrating Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Last year, I shared this warning with a homeschool group on Facebook and boy did I get slammed for doing so. It became apparent a few days later that those who opposed the truth became severely attacked spiritually. I remember at least two particular individuals who testified to some strange, supernatural things happening in their homes, describing dark incidents occurring in their families and homes. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). It was no wonder to me where the strange things were rooted in.
Suffice to say, I left that homeschool group. It was not a place for edification, iron-sharpening or the discerning of the spirits.
Although many of those who celebrate the Day of the Dead call themselves Christians, there is nothing Christian about such practices. The celebration of the Day of the Dead by pagans is one thing, but for Christians to participate in or condone it is unbiblical, to say the least. On the Day of the Dead, each celebrant who invokes the souls of the departed engages in an abominable and utterly pointless sin (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Only One is worthy and powerful enough to call the dead; He will call these to the resurrection of damnation (John 5: 28-29).
Those who have died in Christ are not really dead, since they go immediately into the presence of the Lord; the Bible says they “sleep.” Death is certainly grievous to those who have no hope, being without Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13); however, we who know the Lord are encouraged by the knowledge that just as Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Jesus Himself “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). This is the real truth! (Source)
The Bible says: “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deuteronomy 18: 10-12).
Simply put, as Christians, we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).
What is most troubling is that many celebrate these events without ever fully understanding why. Most Mexicans practice witchcraft and consult with familiar spirits openly without realizing how serious and perilous that really is. Do we not know that we fight a daily battle?
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
We must become fully aware of what we put into practice. It is utterly foolish to participate in what we do not understand and more foolish it is to participate in a tradition for tradition sake. Traditions don’t supersede God’s word. Traditions are what get most unbelievers in trouble because they never know why they commit themselves to rituals, why they make vain repetitions, why they touch and bless themselves with idols made of plaster, why they build altars to the dead. And let’s not forget that people celebrate these unholy festivities because it is another excuse to break out in debauchery. How does any of this edify the Lord?
These invitations into darkness bring upon a curse to the family. Remember, we are wrestling with principalities in this life which are all around us.
What is illogical is to get upset when we are stereotyped, when our families become cursed with the sin of alcoholism, gambling, adultery, idolatry or other strongholds.
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Let’s instead fear the Lord, for He is mighty and worthy of praise and honor and He will not share His throne with an idol. Why don’t we identify with Christ and the things that bring glory to His name and His Son instead? Why don’t we repent, lest we lament the condition of our families who perpetuate the cycle of sin that needs to be broken and cleansed by the blood of Christ?
The Bible says in Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
Día de los Muertos is demonic but the world will tell us otherwise. We need to stay vigilant and grow in knowledge as we draw closer to God. It matters not whether you believe it is or not, whether you justify it as a fun activity that makes you proud to be a Mexican (yeah, that explanation finds itself through the generations) because, in actuality, it is futile to put a mask on something with nefarious origins. Sin by any other name remains sin and wickedness is a force to take seriously as it is not a myth. We are accountable for all we do especially when we do it fully aware of what it is.
Editor’s note: A version of this essay appears on erortega.com.
Eréndira Ramirez-Ortega’s fiction appears in West Branch, The Puritan, Day One, The Cossack Review, The Black Warrior Review, Fourteen Hills and other publications. Eréndira’s poetry is featured in Origins Journal, The Sunlight Press, and Mothers Always Write. Her essays are featured in The Washington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, The Tishman Review, The Mudroom Blog, Faithfully Magazine, Cordella Magazine, Front Porch Commons: A Project of the [CLMP] and elsewhere. She is writing a novel.