I’ve spent the last two weeks at Day of the Dead Festival, or Dia de los Muertos to give it it’s Spanish name. The festival is a huge celebration in Mexico and a chance for families and friends to comes together and celebrate the lives of their dead loved ones.
In traditional Mexican culture it’s believed that on November 1st souls come back to the living for just 24 hours. It’s down to the living relatives to be there to greet them with the pleasures they enjoyed most in life.
If you’re going to celebrate you may as well drag it out, so thanks to the date Halloween is also included in the celebrations (controversially) and so for three days – from 31 October to 2 November – Mexicans get together to share stories and remember their dead loved ones.
Day of the Dead Festival is so much fun!
After a lot of research I decided the best place to celebrate Day of the Dead Festival was in Oaxaca City thanks to the amount of indigenous people who call Oaxaca home, and were there to keep the traditions alive. And these traditions include parades, altars, decorations, skulls made from sugar, fancy dress, face paint, music, fireworks, dancing, all night vigils, tamales, special mole dishes and more.
Day of the Dead is to Mexicans, what Christmas is to much of England, Diwali is to India or Thanksgiving in the USA – children who’ve moved away for education or work will always try their hardest to return home to be with their families.
The graveyards are where it’s at during Day of the Dead Festival. Dedicated Mexicans stay up all night to be with their loved ones when they arrive. It’s the only 24 hours they’ll be with them all year so it’s time to party!
The whole family will get together to perform an all night vigil, not a morbid one though. There’ll be music, dancing, stories and plenty of Mezcal (like Tequila, but dirtier) and food to get them through until morning.
Day of the Dead Festival is a big party hosted by the living for the dead. The wealth of traditions and deep meanings come together to celebrate life and death. It’s a way to accept death and that it will happen to everyone, and to laugh about that and there’s no way of getting away from it.