Celebrated on 2nd November each year, the Day of the Dead commemorates family and friends of the living that have passed away, in their spiritual journey. What some might see as a sombre day is actually a day of celebration and joy as in the Mexican culture, death is seen as a natural part of the cycle of life.
Families build stunning and vibrant private altars to pay homage to those who have passed on and welcome them back to the land of the living. These altars display the photos of the deceased and are decorated with flowers fruits, food, candles even toys! Each altar is unique and depends on the age and personality of the deceased. People do also visit graves to place their offerings and give their respects!
Decoration of the Graves | Photo Credits: Eneas de Troya
Photo Credits: Lisa Ann Yount
Perhaps one of Mexico’s oldest traditions, celebrating death can be traced back to a time millenniums ago where the Aztec, Nahua and Toltec peoples would celebrate death, instead of mourning it. Since then, it has become a festival that incorporates both ancient Mexican and modern Christian traditions (It coincides with All Saints Day!).
The Day of the Dead spills onto the streets with festivities lasting all day. On the national holiday, people dress up in vibrant displays of costumes and have their faces painted as skulls to resemble La Calavera Catrina – the Mexican representation of death!
La Calavera Catrina
Photo Credits: Tristan Higbee
Photo Credits: Cordelia Persen
There is dance, music and a variety of entertainment splayed across the streets and each town is unique in the way they celebrate the Day of the Dead. In some towns, children go around collecting small tokens by knocking on the houses of others, dressed in costume (much like Halloween) and in others, grand parades are held with competitions for locals to take part in.