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Day of the Dead, an impressive Mexican tradition

The Day of the Dead is considered the most representative tradition of Mexican culture. Of pre-Hispanic origin, it has cultural traits of the indigenous people and the Spaniards, which when mixed together gave rise to all the ceremonies and rites that are part of the Mexican tradition today.

This celebration is held on two days, November 1st is dedicated to the souls of children and November 2nd to the souls of adults. The popular belief is that the souls of departed loved ones return from beyond the grave during these days, and this is why they are received with offerings that include food (usually pan de muerto), flowers, candles, glass of water, sweet skulls (usually sugar), and toys for the children on some occasions.



The celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico is so big that people start preparing long before these days, where in every city of the country different parties and activities take place. Thanks to this great celebration, incredible festivals and parties are celebrated in different parts of Mexico. Below we briefly explain 3 different events to understand why the celebration in the country is so impressive. 1.- In Aguascalientes the "Festival de las Calaveras" takes place, where you can see the beauty of tradition in art, magic and mysticism. It is considered one of the most emblematic days of the festivities of the dead with more than 200 activities, where homage is paid to José Guadalupe Posadas and his most famous work.

The celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico is so big that people start preparing long before these days, where in every city of the country different parties and activities take place. Thanks to this great celebration, incredible festivals and parties are celebrated in different parts of Mexico. Below we briefly explain 3 different events to understand why the celebration in the country is so impressive.


1.- Aguascalientes hosts the "Festival de las Calaveras", where you can see the beauty of tradition in art, magic and mysticism. It is considered one of the most emblematic days of the festivities of the dead with more than 200 activities, where homage is paid to José Guadalupe Posadas and his most famous work.


2.- In Chignahuapan, Puebla, the "Festival of Light and Life" takes place, where at nightfall torches are passed along a path illuminated with candles and candles to welcome the souls on the banks of the river and guide them to the offerings that have been placed for them in each of the houses in the region. In this festival there is dancing, music and fireworks with an atmosphere that will make you feel emotions you have never felt before. There are grave decorations, concerts and many gastronomic tastings.



3.- "La Mega Procession of the Catrinas" is an impressive festival because people put on makeup and dress up as catrinas or something similar to this event in Mexico City. Hundreds of families arrive at the Angel of Independence hours before to be made up by artists from the "Asociación Nacional de Artistas Mega Body Paint México". It runs all the way to the zocalo and in 2019 some 150,000 people participated. The parade is divided by theme and is the stage to open the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City.

In Michoacán, the Day of the Dead is celebrated in the towns on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro and on the island of Janitzio, where there are two stops to enjoy the traditional experience. In Lake Patzcuaro the celebration begins with the preparation of food for the dead, while in the streets people sing and play traditional music. The dance of the fishermen is also very important on this day because it is a tradition in the region. Many people go out in rafts and light the way with lighted candles.


At midnight on November 1 is when in the Tzirumutaro pantheon, which is located on the island of Janitzio, women and children come with torches and candles walking in silence. On this day it is very common to see typical dishes of the region such as Turkus, the heavy quesadilla with blue corn tortilla, or the Pájpakata which is a fish gut broth wrapped in pumpkin leaves, among many other typical dishes.



The most common food in Mexico during this celebration is 'Pan de Muerto' and nowadays there are many different ways to prepare this delicacy.

For example, in Puebla they add sesame seeds, in Mexico City and almost all other regions it is with sugar and in Oaxaca there is a yolk bread decorated with alfeñique.

The circular shape refers to the cycle of life and death that all human beings go through, in the center of the bread there is a "little ball" that symbolizes the skull of the deceased, the strips in the shape of a cross represent the bones that people are made of and also the tears of the deceased.


The richness of the manifestation of Mexican culture is so great that UNESCO included it in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008, where it was defined as an integrating, representative and communitarian traditional expression.

In Mexico, the Day of the Dead is very special because of all the food, the music, the dancing and the fact of seeing people in the streets dressed up or painted as catrina makes many traditions come to life. In schools it is common for students to make ofrendas, dressing up as catrina or something similar to this tradition, and anywhere you can buy pan de muerto, sugar skulls and arrangements for the ofrendas. Pan de muerto is typical at this time of the year, sometimes they even put custard or chocolate on it, and it is often combined with hot chocolate because that is when it starts to get cold in Mexico.


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