November has finally arrived! It’s amazing how the end of the year is each day closer, but for me the year couldn’t be over without celebrating one of the most colorful, unique and important festivities in Mexico: ‘Día de Muertos’ (Day of the Dead).
Is common to think that the only typical celebration during these days is the American tradition of Halloween, sadly many Mexican citizens have adopted more this style and forgotten about what is considered as the most beautiful heritage of the country, according to many people.
Nevertheless, is good to see that even though a variety of new elements have been introduced into Mexico, the original cultural elements are more alive than they have ever been before.
In this occasion, today November 2nd (the big day to celebrate) I’ll show you why the Mexican “Day of the Dead” is one of the best traditions in Mexico and what makes it unique and different to the rest of the world.
We know this date is close when on the buildings and places surrounding us start to get decorated with ‘papel picado’ (cut paper), cempasúchil flowers, ‘calaveritas’ (skulls), ‘Pan de muerto’ (Dead Bread), and many more things.
The origin of this tradition is found in the catholic rituals and at the commemoration of indigenous people, which were made since prehispanic times.
There are many nice things to do during this days, but one of the coolest is to visit the famous ‘ofrendas’ (offerings), an essential element of the Day of the Dead. They are set up in each home to remember and honor their gone relatives. People believe that on this day their dead relatives come out to visit their families, that’s why is important to have everything ready and receive them with the love and warmth they deserve. It’s common to decorate them with ‘papel picado’, 'cempasúchil' flowers and also food or drink their ancestors liked to have in the past (like mole, tamales, pan de muerto, tequila, mezcal, etc.), accompanied as well by a picture of the family member.
Around the city you can find different spots to visit the immense variety of ‘ofrendas’ that Mexico can offer. One of my favorites would be the ones of Coyoacán and Tlalpan, located at the south part of Mexico City.
You can take a stroll around the ‘zocalitos’, visit the ‘ofrendas’ and enjoy the gastronomic options available for you to try during this days.
The motives and dedications of the ‘ofrendas’ can vara; to famous Mexican writers like Julio Cortázar, Efraín Huerta, and José Revueltas; or representative figure of the Mexican Gold Cinema Era like María Félix, Cantinflas, Antonio Caso, among others. Or just be creative and tell a story using ‘calaveritas’ and dress them as mariachis playing their instruments and having fun at the town festivities.
The way each city or town celebrates this day can be a little different from one place to another, but the delight and essence that pops out from this festivity is simply unique.
As a Mexican citizen I can say that details like this makes you feel proud and happy of the huge amount of cultural elements that we have, compared to other places in the world. On the other hand, as a traveller you’ll see this is an experience that will leave you breathless and eager to discover all the little and big things that Mexico can offer you.