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The Day of Dead

Day of the death, the day where loved ones that had passed away return to the land of living to see their families on November 2nd. The celebration of the Day of the Dead has pre-Hispanic roots as there are records of celebrations in the Mexican, Mayan, Purépecha, Nahua, and Totonaca ethnic groups. The rituals that celebrate the life of ancestors have been carried out in these civilizations for at least three thousand years. When Spaniards arrived in New Spain (Mexico) and began to evangelize indigenous people this tradition took a catholic side to it, so this festival becomes the Day of the Dead. It begins on November 1st and coincides with the Catholic celebrations of the Day of Faithful Deceased and All Saints.

Families from all over the country place Ofrendas in their houses on this important celebration.

Women dressed up as Catrinas, celebrating the Day of the Dead.

Along with the Ofrendas people are dressed up as Catrinas or Catrines, the Catrina is a skeleton lady drawn by José Guadalupe Posada in 1910 that was used to make fun of people who pretended to be rich and didn’t accept their indigenous roots, nowadays it is used to make fun out of death and embracing it instead of fearing it. Another common activity is to go to the streets and ask for “Calaverita”, years ago children would go out asked for their calaverita and adults would give them a couple of pesos (Mexican currency) so they could buy the traditional sugar skulls, but currently children receive candy, just like trick or treating.

One of the famous altars, decorated lavishly.

To facilitate the return of souls to earth, families spread petals of flowers called cempasúchil and place candles and offerings along the road from the house to the cemetery. The deceased's favorite meals are carefully prepared and placed around the family altar, this altar is also decorated with a thin paper that has shapes cut on it. The altar also has other objects such as salt, water, incense, sugar skulls, candles, etc. t

his all have a specific meaning in the altar, it’s also common to add objects that represent things the person liked to do when they were alive, the traditional Ofrenda must have seven floors.

This is the most precious tradition of my country, it’s even considered a world heritage by the UN. Take the opportunity to learn more about Mexico’s traditions, and I swear you will not be disappointed, and maybe when this pandemic is overtaking the opportunity to come and visit us specifically during these days, we will be pleased to welcome you and show you more about this tradition.

Photo by:
The city of Oaxaca, celebrating the Day of the Dead with memories and altars.

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