Mexican tradition that transcends time
The Day of the Dead is an indigenous tradition of thousands of years. This indigenous vision implies the return of the souls of the dead. Those who return home, to the world of the living to live with their families and to nourish themselves with the essence of the food and love that is offered to them on the altars and offerings placed in their honor.
The Mexica, Mixtecas, Texcocanos, Zapotecs, Tlaxcaltecas, Totonacas, Purépechas, and other indigenous peoples of Mexico, transferred the veneration of their dead to the Gregorian calendar, which coincided with the end of the agricultural cycle of corn, the country’s main food crop. In Mexico, the celebration of the Day of the Dead varies according to each state, municipality or town, however it has the same principle throughout the country, to bring families together to welcome their loved ones who return from beyond.
This celebration takes place on November 1 and 2 of each year. November 1 is the day that children are remembered and the 2nd is the day that adults are remembered.
In Mexico, families often go to the pantheons to decorate the graves of those who have already died with flowers and offerings. In the houses it is customary to make altars or offerings of the dead, so that during these days the souls return from the afterlife and visit their families. In schools in Mexico it is customary to prepare offerings to build altars generally dedicated to famous people in history, the world of art, cinema, literature, among others, all with the aim of remembering them and celebrating the mark they left when passing through this world.
We can invite our children to reflect on the theme of death, remember their ancestors and their teachings, as well as appreciate life, mother earth, and teach them to enjoy their day to day life and their loved ones to the fullest! ! Death is a symbol of life that materializes on the altar offered.
Every year many families place offerings and altars decorated with cempasúchil flowers, papel picado, small sugar skulls, bread of the dead, mole or some dish that the relatives to whom it is dedicated to the offering liked. Also includes a photo, a personal object or the name written on a paper of the person being remembered, a little salt, water, and as in pre-Hispanic times, incense is placed to aromatize the place.
The celebration of the Day of the Dead is one of the most representative festivals of Mexican culture, declared an intangible cultural heritage, according to UNESCO.
- Text by: Eugenia Highland Granados