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A millenary tradition

Throughout history, the transition from life to death has symbolized a moment of admiration, fear and uncertainty for humans. For many years, all types of cultures have developed beliefs about death, which have led to the creation of rites and traditions that worship, honor, frighten, or even mock death. In Mexico, a country rich in culture and traditions, the concept of life and death represents one of the main aspects of the country’s identity.

While each town and region in Mexico has its own traditions and customs, one that can be experienced throughout the entire country is the Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos. On this holiday, families come together to welcome the souls of loved ones who have departed from this life.

The Day of the Dead celebration dates back to before the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico. There is record of such celebrations that honor the dead in the Mexica, Maya, Purepecha and Totonac civilizations. Among these groups, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival known today as the Day of the Dead was celebrated on the ninth month of the Aztec solar calendar (approximately at the beginning of August) for an entire month. The festivities were presided by the goddess Mictecacíhuatl, known as "Lady Death," (currently better known as "La Catrina," a character created by artist José Guadalupe Posada) who was the wife of Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the underworld. The festivities honored children and the lives of deceased relatives.

Day of the Dead traditions and customs

Today, the Day of the Dead celebrates the departed and aims to please the souls through their senses. It is said that the souls receive "divine permission" to visit relatives, who in return offer them an altar as an honor for their presence.

The altar, the most symbolic feature during the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico, is a representation of how we envision death, and features offerings (or ofrendas) for the dead.

The calacas or skulls, commonly used as decorations and masks, are also widely used during the holiday. They are made into treats, popularly known as sugar skulls, which are eaten by relatives and friends and have the names of the deceased (or in some cases living people as a joke) carved on the forehead. Other specialty dishes include Day of the Dead bread, a sweet bead that is baked into different shapes – from a simple round loaf of bread, to a shape of a skull or rabbit.

Another important tradition that takes place during this celebration are the famous lithographs (in Spanish they are called calaveras or skulls). These consist of verses where La Catrina, symbolizing death, pranks people by referencing a particular characteristic of the person in question, and ending with phrases that say she is taking them to the grave. Today, it is common to see lithographs in major Mexican newspapers around the Day of the Dead celebration, where parodies of La Catrina referencing political figures are featured.

The Day of the Dead festivals are planned months in advance and celebrated for days or even a week. In some regions, it begins on October 25 or 28 and ends on November 2 or 3 depending on the local traditions, with each day honoring a specific loved one.

  • October 28: Families and friends honor those who died as a result of an accident, as well as those who had a sudden or violent death.
  • October 29: Families remember those who drowned.
  • October 30: People welcome and remember the lonely and forgotten souls who don’t have a family, such as orphans and criminals.
  • October 31: People honor those who were never born, or who were not baptized.
  • November 1: Families remember the children, also referred to as "little angels"
  • November 2: Families welcome and remember all adults who have died.


A mexican tradition that mustn't die

Since 2003, the cultural wealth of the Day of the Dead is recognized internationally as world heritage.

Day of the Dead is one of the most representative traditions of the mexican culture, in which the dead are honored with lots of colors and flavors on November 2. It’s a "party" as sad as cheerful, in which between flowers and music you remember loved ones who have died.
This unique festival in the world is considered a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), since late 2003, because it reflects the cultural identity and social of the Mexican people.
According to the organization: "The institution of the feast of the dead ... reveals a cultural synergy between indigenous thought and the ideological system imported in the sixteenth century by the Europeans."
The origins of Day of the Dead date from pre-Hispanic times, when Mesoamerican indigenous cultures like Maya, Azteca, Purepecha, Nahua and Totonaca performed rituals and built offerings for the souls of their dead people, who returned from their break to meet with family and friends.
When it was recognized by UNESCO, the festival should be protected by Mexican authorities for communities to identify, document, promote and revitalize a custom that may be vulnerable to the influences of foreign celebrations and victims of globalization.
According to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) "it is the mainspring of our cultural diversity and its maintenance a guarantee for continuing creativity", so there is a committee that since 1990 assesses the relevance of many traditions around the world.
Thus, the Day of the Dead is one of the four Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Latin America were named as such in the same year; the other three are the Andean worldview of Kayawalla of Bolivia, oral and graphic expressions of Wajapi Brazil and the Carnival Colombian of Barranquilla.
And "as in this matraca world die nobody escapes" preserve this holiday hundred percent Mexican makes thousands and thousands of families recognize death as a natural part of the human experience and consider the dead as members of the community, so they placed offerings in their homes and prepare for your visit.

CDMX will celebrate many Days of the Dead

Offerings, performances and the Great Parade in Zocalo Capitalino are some of the activities to live the celebration of October 29 to November 2.

There are many ways in which you can live the color and music that surround this beautiful tradition, where we celebrate our dead in the company of family and friends, but this year the best options to enjoy the celebration are in Zocalo Capitalino.
Plaza de la Constitucion will be the place where you can enjoy the Great Parade, as well as a series of performances and cultural activities, without forgetting the gigantic offerings. One of these will be mounted by the visual artist Romero Betsabeé; with the name "Canto al Agua", you can be seen on Saturday October 29 to November 2.

Precisely on October 29 at noon, will start the Day of the Dead’s celebrations, the date for which is scheduled the concerts Symphonic Band of the CDMX and Assemblies School of Rock to the Word. In this musical sphere also will be presented "The experience of Mictlan" with the participation of the singer Rosalia Leon, Gliese 229, the guitarist Julio Revueltas and DJ Alyosha Barreiro.
On a day that will last until 22:00 hours, you can enjoy the Ballet Dance School of CDMX and "Night of dead bike", a ride that will depart from Gandhi and Paseo de la Reforma.
However, the main attraction of the day is the Great Parade which will start at 14:00 hours to travel Paseo de Reforma, Avenida Juarez, Tacuba, Bolivar, 5 de Mayo and the Plaza de la Constitution.
On Sunday October 30, from 12:00 to 21:00 hours, there will be concerts of “Traditional Orchestra of the CDMX”, “The Choir of CDMX”, “The Mariachi of Minister Public Security”, “Elias Chessani and Huapangueros Rioverde”, “Susana Harp and La Santa Cecilia”.
On Monday October 31 in addition to “Amoxtli concerts”, “Espumas y Terciopelo”, “Mare Advertencia Lirika” and “Centavrvs”, will be held the “Festival de Danza sin Fronteras”, so you may enjoy the day from 14:00 to 21: 00 hours.
“Triciclo Rojo”, “The Children's Choir of CDMX”, “La Sensacional Orquesta Lavadero”, “Bandula” and “Triciclo Circus Band” will be the musical groups responsible for the party mood on Tuesday November 1, from 15:00 to 22:00 hours.
On Wednesday November 2, the Day of the Dead will be embellish from 12:00 hours with the “Ofrenda Acardenchada”, and the celebration will last until 21:00 pm with concerts of “Venado Azul”, “Zazhil”, “Grupo Pindékuecha”, “Mogo-Mogo”, “Cojolites”, “Los Macuiles” and “Mono Blanco e invitados”.

As part of the death celebration you can also live the experience of attending the exhibitions from major museums in the city.
There are three excellent recommendations in the Mexico City´s Museum: “Recuerdos en las Sombras de Otros Tiempos”, “Cancioneros del Siglo XIX, no me olvides”, interpreted by the duet Carrillo-Valencia, an offering of “Colectivo Chameshiii” and a workshop to create “catrinas”, “calaveras” y “diablitos” with paper mache.
Many artistic and cultural activities, plus a mega offering, have been organized by the “Centro Cultural Ollin Yoliztli” as the "Ruta de Muertos 2016. To Be or not To Be, Calavereando en algún lugar de la Mancha" or the film series "De Muertos, Vivos y algo más" in collaboration with “Cineclub La Guerrero”.
For theater lovers, on 1 and 2 November the “Teatro Ángeles Peralta” present the “Catrina Fest”, while the Benito Juarez Delegation offered in its esplanade the mega offering "El Retorno de los Pueblos y Barrios de la Delegación Benito Juárez al Mictlán" plus a gastronomic show, concerts and performance.
Those same days, in many venues of Miguel Hidalgo Delegation will presented the theater plays "Cuando Abrí los Ojos" and "Si las muñecas hablaran" also a mobile cinema with "Macario" tape.
Finally, “San Andres Mixquic”, “San Pedro Tláhuac”, “San Francisco Tlaltenco”, “San Juan Ixtayoapan” and “Bosque de Tláhuac” will have exhibitions, costume contests, Chinampa’s tours, concerts, offerings, literature activities and reading promotion, gastronomic shows, courses and workshops.

The unmissable parade of the Day of the Dead

Know the route, activities and attractions that offer this journey through the capital's streets on October 29.

If you're a fan of James Bond, probably you saw the film that was shot on the streets of the Zocalo at Mexico City: Spectre, which begins with a splendid scene of a parade on the Day of the Dead.
Following the success of that scene, the pretext of the film was used and the Great Parade was created in order to create a new image and brand of the festival to show its unique essence, not just to Mexico but to the entire world.
The tour will begin at 15:00 hours on the Paseo de la Reforma Avenue up to Insurgentes, to finish in the Zocalo, around 20:00 pm, and participate characters like the cabezones Posadas with noisemakers, Don Quixote, the Catrina, Aztec skulls, Edelitas, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Cantinflas, Chavo del 8, El Santo and even Juan Gabriel.
In addition, a percussion band aboard a float will be responsible for encouraging music of Tambora, including songs like "Revolution", "The Journey on Wheels", "Return to Traditions Mexico and" Death Famous".
In the celebration also participate bicycles, skateboards, swings and acrobats, among others, mass entertainment producer Anima Inc, in a project which will involve citizen volunteers, players and sponsors, both institutional and private.
Join us, takes up the streets and contribute with us to build the Mexico we want and to project our heritage and wealth to the world. And if you get hungry or thirsty, or just want a comfortable space to enjoy the parade, we leave this list of places located along the route.

At Paseo de la Reforma
• El Bajío
• Los Canarios
• Garabatos
• Finca Santa Vera Cruz
• Cielito Querido Café
• The Capital Grille
• Hotel Emporio
• El Diez
• Hotel Fiesta Americana
• Hotel Imperial
• Gaudi
• Hotel Le Meridien
• Hotel Krystal Grand
• Sonora Grill

At Juárez Avenue
• Salón Sol
• El Cardenal
• Café del Palacio

At 5 de Mayo Avenue
• Restaurante Bar La Ópera
• Café El Popular
• Edificio Puebla

At Plaza de la Constitución
• El Zafiro
• El Mayor
• Puro Corazón

After recording the movie Spectre, the Great Parade emerges in CDMX.
The parade will last four hours

The taste of the dead

The arrival of one of the most traditional celebrations in Mexico is announced in bakeries with a sweet and special preparation.

The celebration of Day of the Dead has much color, but also taste; It is an ideal way to prepare exquisite traditional dishes and invite to those who have left us, to eat in their honor special treats for the occasion date.
The “pan de muerto” is the king of menu on November 2nd: sprinkled with white or red sugar, topped with sesame seeds, vanilla or orange, covered with chocolate, filled with fruits and dozens of figures, it is in bakeries to throughout the Mexican Republic.
It is said that the Hispanic cultures buried their dead with a bread to not go hungry during their journey to the afterlife, and there comes the tradition.
But also note that this tradition came up when the Spaniards decided to eradicate an indigenous ritual that was to sacrifice a maiden to remove her heart and put it in a pot with amaranth so that, during the ceremony, the priest could take a good bite to thank the gods. Terrified because of this practice, the conquerors replaced the human heart by one made of flour and sugar decorated with red ink.
Whatever the origin of the bread of the dead is, the truth is that its construction was modified to become what it is today: in his best-known version, carries a small ball at the center representing the skull of the deceased, and four bones symbolizing the cardinal points of the Aztec calendar and Quetzalcoatl, Xipetotec, Tlaloc and Tezcatlipoca deities.
Some ancient cultures of Mesoamerica regarded death as a stage of a much longer life, so they kept the skulls of their dead as trophies for having completed it and placed on their altars called then tzompantli.
Because this tradition was against the mandates of the Catholic Church, the Spaniards devised a way to represent the indigenous belief otherwise, with sugar skulls that bear the names of their dead. Since then, these exclusive Sweet Day of the Dead are the favorite ornament to place offerings.
And to share with the those who have left us, Mexican families cook traditional dishes like mole poblano, tamales, sweet potato and sweet guava, that combine with pulque, tequila and mezcal.

known as held every State the Day of the Dead