Celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico

The beginning of autumn always reminds me that Day of the Dead is right around the corner. And if you’re contemplating a trip to Mexico, it’s one of the best times to go. Festivities start on October 31 and last through November 2.

Some say the Day of the Dead has its origins in ancient Aztec feasts honoring the deceased. After death, warriors and innocents became hummingbirds and butterflies. Others were sent to a land of eternal spring. Everyone else went to Mictlán, the land of the dead, ruled by the god Mictlantecuhtli.

When the Spanish invaded Mexico, these feast days evolved as a combination of Aztec tradition and the Catholic days of All Souls and All Saints. Celebrated throughout Mexico, El Día de los Muertos is once of the country’s biggest holidays.

Want to be part of Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico this year? Here’s where to go:

Isla de Janítzio (state of Michoacán)

The island of Janítzio in Lake Pátzcuaro has elaborate celebrations. Plus, the unique candlelit boat procession to the island slows the pace between the worlds of the living and dead. I was here a few years ago for Día de los Muertos, and wrote about my experience for TravelMuse.

(Distrito Federal)

A small town on the outskirts of Mexico City so well known for its Day of the Dead celebrations, it’s often referred to as the “City of the Dead.”

Oaxaca City
(state of Oaxaca)

So many people flock to Oaxaca’s cemeteries that travel packages are created just for the holiday. Unique to Oaxaca’s festivities is the temporary creation of colored sand carpets, sculpted in 3-D.

Merida (state of Yucatan)

The White City celebrations include the Mayan banquet of the dead, Hanal Pixan (“soul food”). Large tamales baked in an underground pit are tasty features on the menu.

Chiapa de Corzo (state of Chiapas)

Marimba and mariachi bands play beloved tunes of the dead at the local cemetery of this small colonial town. Firecrackers announce the departure of souls each year.

Posted by | Comments Off on Celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico  | September 24, 2010
Category: Languages and Culture, North America

Comments are closed.