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Things to Know about the Celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico

LIFESTYLE | Published on 24/10/2022
Optimizada things to know about the celebration of the day of the dead in mexico

Mexico is a magical place based not just on finding one of a kind vacation spots but due to its rich culture and history. With November around the corner, families are preparing to celebrate one of the most sacred Mexican traditions dating back thousands of years: the Day of the Dead.  And we’re excited to share things to know about the celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico

Dia de Los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, attracts many tourists from around the world who come to experience this and other celebrations in Mexico. Even though it originated in Mexico and dates back thousands of years to the Aztec Toltec and Nahua people, this is one of the Mexican holidays celebrated by other countries in Latin America.

What is the Day of the Dead?

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition surrounding celebrating life and death. The Aztec Toltec and Nahua people considered mourning the death of their loved ones as disrespectful as they believed they remained a part of their community even in death. By celebrating the dead in spirit and memory, the combination of indigenous Aztec rituals with Catholicism gave birth to the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Due to its proximity to the date of Halloween, some people often think it is the Mexican version of Halloween. However, it is not in the slightest. While Halloween focuses on terror and death, the Day of the Dead consists of 2 days of festivities showing love and respect for the dead using explosive colors, offerings, and Day of the Dead altars to honor those who are only with us in spirit and memory. 

When is the Day of the Dead?

While November 2 is the official holiday, the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico start on November 1 when people honor deceased children while deceased adults are honored on November 2. From a more religious standpoint, November 1 is also considered All Saints Day, and November 2 is All Souls Day. During this 2-day holiday, the dead are considered to be awakened from eternal rest to visit their loved ones again. 

Between October 30-31, Day of the Dead altars are traditionally built, and the preparation of “ofrendas” begins. “Ofrendas” are offerings to the dead which adorn the altars such as their favorite items, toys for children, Tequila or Mezcal for adults, also food the dead usually enjoy eating while alive, and the famous “Pan de Muertos”; a pastry mostly baked and sold during this season. Families patiently await the arrival of their loved ones during these 2 days; by November 3, most altars are taken down.

The Day of the Dead in Mexico

How big of a celebration it will be, depends on the region. In Bigger cities, there are large parades and gatherings of people in Catrina’s costumes or painted faces. While in smaller towns, it’s a bit more intimate and family oriented. People visit their loved ones' graveside to clean, decorate, and build altars. Pathways are made out of marigolds which are also known as Day of the Dead flowers. They are used to guide the dead to their altars and family.

Popular symbols of the Day of the Dead are skulls, skeletons, Calavera Catrinas, and most of all marigold flowers which are also called October flowers because they only bloom during that period of the year. 

Some altars are pretty spectacular and may be several tiers high. Pictures and portraits of the dead as well as mini statues of La Virgin Guadalupe would appear on the top tier. The second tier includes items belonging to the dead or their favorite items, food, and drinks, and the bottom tier has candles, water, washcloth, etc.

You’ll find many streets, homes, and cemeteries adorned with vibrant colors of perforated paper that have skull figures and other Day of the Dead symbols. In addition, the Day of the Dead flowers is placed everywhere. This is one of the more important Mexican holidays, so much so that it has even been recognized by UNESCO and added to its list of Intangible Culture Heritage of Humanity in 2008. 

So now that you know when is the Day of the Dead, will you venture to Mexico to partake in these incredible celebrations in Mexico? Villa La Valencia would be honored to host you and your family as we further share the true meaning of what is the Day of the Dead. It is one of those out-of-this-world Mexican traditionsworth experiencing at least once.

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