“This encounter between the living and the dead,” UNESCO explains, “affirms the role of the individual within society and contributes to reinforcing the political and social status of Mexico’s indigenous communities.”, Beauty Artist Turns “Skull Face” Makeup into a Gorgeous Art Form, 10 Famous Folk Artists Who Carry on the Tradition of Creative Expression, Mexican Folk Art Sculptures Created by Residents of Oaxaca, Powerful Portraits Explore the Culturally Rich Traditions of Mexico’s Zapotec People. Following Spanish colonization, the Day of the Dead was gradually influenced by another holiday honoring those who have died: Allhallowtide. Stock Photos from Fer Gregory/Shutterstock. Please review our privacy policy. These small skulls are exquisitely decorated with motifs like flowers and spiderwebs and often feature names of the dead written in foil or icing on their foreheads. I love a bit of adventure, will try anything once, and have a strong passion for the local food and drink, whatever it may be. Like many Mesoamerican peoples, the Aztecs viewed grief as disrespectful to the dead. Mole is really popular in Oaxaca and they’re proud of their unique 7 varieties. Prayers are recited upon arriving at the graves, and are often preceded by candlelit processions. Often decorated in vibrant oranges and purples before being piled high with ofrendas (offerings) such as candles, flowers and personal possessions, these altares (altars) are generally more private affairs that are built at home. The truly special thing about it in Mexico is that it is prepared differently in different parts of the country which, in turn, serves as a great way to become acquainted with the varied offerings of the land. Skeletal characters like these have a long history in Mexico of serving as a certain criticism over the different disparities between the classes and continue to represent the idea that we are all socially equal. After all, the purpose of the Day of the Dead is to honor family members who have passed and for them to use this opportunity to ask them for their guidance by appealing to their good nature with offerings like food, drinks, items of personal significance and anything else that they might enjoy on the other side. It’s a beautiful place and the festivities begin at the end of October in the Main Garden where altars start to branch out and actually compete in a contest. While there are “Dia de Muertos traditions”, it’s also important to note that the Dia de Muertos festivities vary widely throughout the different regions of Mexico. Most people like making it spicy as well as adding lemon. The altars are sacred – it’s how the souls will find their way back to their family. Modern-day Day of the Dead costumes and Day of the Dead art can be attributed to two important 20 This private altar includes the photographs of their dead loved ones as well as all that they liked and loved when they were alive. However, Catholic influences brought by conquistadors in the 16th century prompted a shift to its present date. Other dishes are specific to different regions. Calacas are clothed, decorated and colorful skeleton figurines that you’ve undoubtedly seen but never known the name for. Each year, hundreds of people dress up as Catrinas and descend on the zócalo to take part in the Catrina parade. Some of the most common are skeletons in jovial celebration and foods that are enjoyed. To add a personal touch to the altar, participants may add objects owned or previously enjoyed by the dead, including clothing, cigarettes, and toys. In addition to building altars at one’s home, many people traditionally visit cemeteries and decorate their family members’ graves. Mexicans will cut the outlines of skulls and skeletons into  the paper and then they’re hung up around the ofrendas, outside windows and between houses. Day of the Dead Customs and Traditions Day of the Dead is the Mexican holiday celebrating the spirit of your deceased loved ones. Some of the wide array of delicious foods that are prepared for this special time are decorated in a similar way. All rights reserved. Colorful skulls made of molded sugar paste (known as calaveras) are another staple of Day of the Dead decor. Made into a circular shape to represent the circle of life, it’s common in Oaxaca to get the Pan de Muerto with a hot chocolate and dip it in. As these festivities have taken root, the influence of Halloween is growing — not only in the U.S. but also back in Mexico. Receive our Weekly Newsletter. Rites and rituals reminiscent of The Day of the Dead can be traced back to the Post-Classic period (1300 to 1521) in Pre-Columbian Mexico. Stock Photos from Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock. The celebration occurs annually on October 31, November 1, and November 2, and is held to honor those who have died. I've had this blog for almost 10 years now and gone from weekend traveller, to solo digital nomad for 3 years, to owning a home in sunny Southsea, UK – holidaying when I can.

This unique and colorful holiday, most widely recognized and represented by its hallmark ornate calaveras (skulls), is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd. Day of the Dead is the Mexican holiday celebrating the spirit of your deceased loved ones. It’s a special orange or anise flavoured bread that’s shaped into skulls, bones and skeletons, and is only available around Day of the Dead Festival. The construction of altars is perhaps the principal custom of this longstanding celebration. Classical imagery that many Mexicans associate with the Day of the Dead may be found in the warm almost pastel-like colors of the traditional oilcloths. I have read and agree to the terms & conditions. The visits take place on November 1st, for those who passed away as children, and on November 2nd, for those who died as adults. Instead, it focuses on celebrating the dead—an aesthetic illustrated by its festive decorations, spirited food and drink, respectful photographs, symbolic candles, and thoughtful trinkets. Constructing altars. Celebrations traditionally begin at midnight on October 31st and continue until November 2. The best altars, or ofrendas as they’re known in Spanish, are fabulously over the top. Placing flowers on the graves is another way to show how much you loved that person, and to give them a nice grave to come back to. Learn about Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos traditions with these resources for a virtual Day of the Dead field trip for kids and adults! An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. How Can You Use Candy Corn In Halloween Recipes? Explore more Day of the Dead culture and traditions through museum artifacts and popular art. Attendees paint their faces in the typical style of the Catrina skull, complete with colorful accents around the eyes and cheeks, and dress in outfits appropriate for the occasion.

Though the specific traditions and rituals involved with the Day of the Dead vary from region to region, the celebration generally revolves around the creation of an altar, which participants fill with stylized skeletons, food, and other offerings. Other times, however, their arrangement is ambiguous. Day of the Dead is a unique tradition celebrated every year on November 1st and 2nd across Mexico. During the Dutch Golden Age, artists touched on mortality in their memento mori still life paintings.

Even though not all families choose to honor their loved ones at the graveyard itself, the tradition of cleaning the grave is still respected by most. The enchanting thing about them is that, thanks to their dark backdrop contrasting with the vibrant colors usually denoting natural elements, they set the scene at night time quite intimately. Mexican children now go trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes has become a popular tradition. For example, La Calavera Catrina—a secular female skeleton character that has come to symbolize Día de los Muertos—was inspired by Mictēcacihuātl. Jakub Schikaneder, “All Souls' Day,” 1888 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain).

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