Known as the Day of the Dead, the Dia de los Muertos (or Dia de Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico on November 1 and 2. It is a very festive holiday and one of the most colorful celebrations in the country. The main focus of the celebrations lies in praying for and remembering dead friends and family members. The actual belief is that the spirits of the deceased come down to earth from heaven and reunite with their families for one day. In tradition, people set up altars for them decorated with candles, lots of marigold flowers (cempasuchil, “flower of the dead”) and mounds of foods and drinks that they loved. This also includes toys and candies for children (angelitos) and cigarettes and mezcal (an alcoholic beverage made from the agave plant) for the adults.
Common for this celebration are the skulls and skeletons, which can be found by themselves or designed across a variety of different products. Molded out of paper maché or even sugar, these skulls and skeletons are used for decoration on altars and tombs. A very typical sweet which is just produced for this occasion is the Pan de Muerto, or day of the dead bread. People also put on a special make-up to make them look like skeletons.
The Dia de los Muertos day celebrations are mostly celebrated in the states south of Mexico City. This includes Michoacan, Puebla, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Chiapas and the Yucatan. The festivities are also held in the north, yet the traditions are a bit different here. You will find the celebrations all over the country, but especially in smaller villages and towns. The best places in Mexico to celebrate the day of the dead are in Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende, Michoacán or in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Apart from the actual celebrations, the dealings with death is a very remarkable and unique thing to the Mexican culture. Whereas the Western culture sees death as a very sad and bad experience, Mexican confront it with a certain sense of irony. This might sound a bit odd and weird but it a very normal belief in the Mexican culture. And it is this particular way of thinking that is being celebrated and honored on the Dia de los Muertos.
Unfortunately, we were not able to make it to Mexico for this celebrations this year. We have heard such great things about it that we just had to bring it out to you, especially since the celebrations are coming up next week. So if you do find a way to get to Mexico at this time make sure to experience it!