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A Journey Into Paradise

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) Festivities in Mexico

02 November, 2014

Celebrated the 1st and 2nd of November,Day of the Dead  (Dia de los Muertos) encompasses a variety of holiday traditions that take place throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. Gatherings in Mexico focus on family and friends who come together to pray for and remember friends and family members who have passed away.

“Dia de los Muertos is all about remembering the dead,praying for deceased loved ones and celebrating their spirits,which may or may not come to visit for the festival,” writes the Londonist.

As one of the most time-honored holidays in Mexico,Dia de los Muertos is also an example of the harmonious relationship between Christianity and various pre-Hispanic traditions found throughout the country. It is also a national holiday,which means banks,some businesses and many government offices will be closed.

“Festivals are among the delights of traveling,and I’ve flown to Mexico this year just to experience one of the most fascinating of them all: Dia de los Muertos,” writes travel writer Lea Lane for Forbes. “For the holiday,Mexican markets sell toys and candy transformed into deathly symbols such as skeletons,coffins and La Muerta,death herself.”

Regardless of where you may be in Mexico for the Day of the Dead,it’s sure to be an exciting time filed with colorful memories and unique traditions that won’t soon be forgotten! Although you can witness Day of the Dead celebrations anywhere in Mexico,we’ve listed a few of the most popular and colorful festivities below.

Oaxaca

In the state capital of Oaxaca City,Day of the Dead festivities begin a full week before Oct. 31 with the unveiling of Plaza de los Muertos in each of the city’s markets. The main initiation takes place in the larger Mercado de Abastos,but every plaza throughout the city will offer access to all of the items one needs in order to properly prepare for the upcoming holiday.

As in many parts of Mexico,altars are built before Oct. 31 in the homes of people throughout the state of Oaxaca. Generally a table wrapped in a tablecloth,the altars are adorned with sugarcane and often incorporate some sort of triumphal arch. Offerings are placed on the altars the morning of 1st,consisting of favorite dishes like mole,nicuatole (corn jelly),tejocotes (small wild apples) and pan de muerto (bread of the dead).

Merida

Located on the Yucatan Peninsula not far from Cancun and the Riviera Maya,Dia de los Muertos in the city of Merida is a time when many families cook a special seasoned chicken tamale wrapped in banana leaves known as pibipollo,which is cooked underground in the traditional way. In the Maya language,Day of the Dead is known as Hanal Pixan,which means “feast for the souls,” or “food of the spirits,” so the dish is believed to be enjoyed by both the dearly departed,who consume its essence,and the living. As in all of Mexico’s cities and towns,a variety of festivities will also take place in honor of the holiday in the streets and cemeteries of Merida. 

Riviera Maya

The Xcaret Eco-Park is located just south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen along the Mexican Caribbean Sea and offers a variety of activities all year long,including this year’s 9th Annual Festival of Life and Death Traditions,which runs from Oct. 30 through Nov. 2 and includes a variety of theater and dance performances,concerts,educational opportunities,parades and special tours,along with Day of the Dead rituals. Park admission always includes more than 40 natural attractions,activities and cultural performances.

What’s your favorite holiday to spend in Mexico? Share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below today!

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