Day of the Dead is one of the traditions held most dearly by Mexicans, and arguably the most broadly celebrated across the country, although defining differences can be found from region to region.
In 2008, UNESCO proclaimed Day of the Dead an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which in essence means that the holiday represents one of the defining aspects of Mexican culture.
Read on to discover the basics of this centuries-old tradition, and its modern-day celebration.
People participating in Hanal Pixan, the Day of the Dead celebration in the Yucatan Peninsula, with traditional
face painting and candles for prayers.
The Day of the Dead, or “Dia de Muertos” in Spanish, is a traditional Mexican holiday that takes place on November 1st and 2nd, although celebrations start a few days earlier. The holiday is a time for families and communities to gather together to honor and remember their loved ones who have passed away.
During Day of the Dead, families create elaborate altars, or “ofrendas,” in their homes or at the gravesites of their loved ones. These ofrendas are decorated with candles, flowers, food, and other items that the deceased enjoyed in life. It is believed that the spirits of the departed return to the world of the living during this time, and the ofrendas are meant to welcome and honor them.
The Day of the Dead is a rich and colorful celebration that blends indigenous Mexican traditions with Catholicism, and it is recognized as an important cultural and religious event in Mexico and in many other Latin American countries.
Dia de Muertos is an ancient ceremony dedicated to the departed, in which ancient precolonial traditions intertwine with Catholic tradition, representing ethnic and cultural diversity of the country.
There are different ways in which this vibrant and festive celebration in Mexico is honored, and many have evolved over the centuries, or are region-specific.
Overall, the Day of the Dead is a rich and colorful celebration that honors the memory of loved ones who have passed away and is an important cultural and religious event in Mexico, with many variations of the festivities having been born in recent years.
There are many cities in Mexico that are known for their vibrant and colorful Day of the Dead celebrations, with varying levels of authenticity or mix with the modern. Some of the best cities to experience the holiday include:
These are just a few examples of the many delicious foods that are associated with the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico. If you have the opportunity to experience this unique cultural event, be sure to try some of these traditional foods for a truly authentic and memorable experience.
“Pib” tamal, a unique style of tamal prepared only during Day of the Dead celebrations in the Yucatan
Whether you choose to celebrate Day of the Dead in a small community for a unique, authentic experience – or in a large city with parades and modern-day festivities, you are guaranteed the experience of a lifetime with food, music, and colors.
Make sure to participate and engage, while being respectful to the locals; they will provide cues as to where and how far you can reach, but we Mexicans are friendly and hospitable, and it fills us with pride to share our traditions.