Surely you have heard of el Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) as it is a very popular Mexican holiday to honor the deceased that has been declared by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mexico. It is celebrated annually on November 1st and 2nd and contrasts with the solemnity in which other cultures celebrate All Saints' Day.
The popular belief is that the souls of the deceased return on el Dia de los Muertos and are expected with offerings from the living. Offerings (ofrendas) of the Day of the Dead can be food, drink, flowers and favorite objects of the deceased. The offerings have a lot of symbolism, for example:
- Water, so that the souls can clean themselves and quench their thirst
- Salt, for the body to return without being corrupted
- White tablecloth, to maintain purity
- Incense, to purify the air and avoid evil spirits.
- Skulls, to remember that Death is always present
- A portrait covered and only visible through a mirror, a symbol that the deceased is but no longer exists.
- Pan de muerto (bread), as a symbol of fraternity
- Flowers, which represent the festivity
Each family has its own customs and will change elements according to their own traditions. Unlike Halloween, which is intended to scare away spirits, the intention in the Day of the Dead is to attract our loved ones and deceased with the offerings.
In addition, cemeteries are visited and candles are placed to illuminate the path of souls. The cemeteries usually remain open throughout the night so that people can honor their dead.
This festivity is originally from Mexico and is celebrated especially there but you will also find celebrations of el Dia de los Muertos in some places in Central America and in communities in the United States with a strong Mexican presence.
As a tourist it represents an unforgettable experience and there are countless recommended destinations to enjpy this day as Aguascalientes, Cholula, Ciudad de México, Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Huaquechula, Huasteca Potosina, Oaxaca, Ocotepec, Patzcuaro, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, San Andrés Mixquic, San Miguel de Allende, Santiago de Queretaro, Tehuetlan, Tehuixla, Teotihuacan, Tlaquepaque, Toluca, Xalapa, Xochimilco, etc.
¿What do you think?
The next Day of the Dead is just around the corner. Would you like to travel to live the experience? What would you think of visiting Mexico this November?