Do you know how Day of the Dead is celebrated in México? This holiday is something that most people in Mexico wait for, to spend time with the people who have departed on the journey of no return.
Javy Torres our guest author, tells us why some mourners sing to their dead loved ones, eat with them, offer them mezcal and get drunk at their beloved graves in the Day of the Dead.
On that day, people mourn their dead, but also spend time with them; they tell them how much their absence weighs on them.
When is day of the dead celebrated in Mexico?
- Mexico celebrates the day of the dead on November 1st and 2nd. It is most traditionally celebrated in Southern Mexico.
- On the 1st, we celebrate those who died as children.
- On the following day, an altar is built for the deceased adults
Why is Day of the Dead celebrated in mexico?
Mexico celebrate Day of the Dead because people believe that on those dates the souls of the dead return to their homes to enjoy the flowers, drinks and food offered to them by their loved ones.
Day of the dead dECORATIONS IN THE HOUSE
In advance, people buy, or dust off, the best tablecloth to cover the table that will contain the offerings for their deceased loved ones. Check out these Day of the Dead decor and accesories for your Altar.
In most homes of Chilpancingo and most southern states of Mexico, the offerings to the dead are placed on a table, placed next to a wall; covered with colorful tablecloths.
These offering include bread, fruits, atole, tamales, sugar cane, bananas, mezcal and other foods and beverages that the deceased liked.
What is included on a Day of the Dead Altar?
- Cempasúchil flowers, which are yellow and fragrant. They are also known in this region as “flowers of the dead”.
- Candles or veladoras are a must in the table of offerings to the dead.
- The ornament on the table and the flowers on the wall are called an altar to the dead, or simply Altar.
- In some homes, photos of the deceased loved ones are placed on the altar, either on the wall or on the table.
- Food and drink are placed on the table so that the souls of the dead, who return on those days, are fed with the aroma.
Tomb arrangements to celebrate day of the dead
Before the Day of the Dead festivity, people visit the cemetery to decorate their loved ones’ graves.
Those who have graves made of concrete, paint them; the poorest, who could not afford to have cement tombs, use shovels to pile up dirt in the shape of someone sleeping under the soil.
With this, the tomb is ready for the visit on Day of the Dead.
Day of the Dead for children and infants
November 1 is the day when the souls of the deceased boys and girls are celebrated. This is the day they return home to taste the sweets, cookies, and other food that relatives leave for them on the offering table.
In the afternoon of that day, relatives visit their graves and decorate them with flowers.
dia de muertos for adults
November 2 is the celebration of deceased adults. Besides their favorite food, relatives bring to the offering table mezcal, beer, or any other beverage that the deceased used to enjoy.
This because the dead are said to return on this date to visit their homes and smell the food and drinks.
In some homes, especially in the rural communities surrounding Chilpancingo, people form paths leading to the altar with their offerings from several meters outside the house.
For this, they use Mexican marigold flowers—known as cempasúchil—, they also leave candles lit all night to make it easier for the dead to find their home and the food.
FLOWER OFFERINGS AND VISITING WITH THE DEAD AT THE CEMETERY
In the afternoon of November 1, but especially on November 2, relatives go to the cemetery to visit with their deceased.
After putting flowers on the graves, relatives bring food the deceased used to enjoy and serve a plate so they can eat with the departed.
If the dead loved mezcal, beer, tequila or another intoxicating drink, family members bring it to the tomb and toast to them.
Music is also played everywhere around the graves—especially rancheras—as a joyful celebration of their former lives.
The sound of the mourners’ quiet crying and loud wailing is not uncommon around the graveyard on the occasion.
Some talk with their dead, aloud or quietly, telling them how much they are loved and have been missed.
As the night falls, the cemetery is left alone until only the dead in their tombs remain, lit by the candles all around. Little by little, silence takes over the place.
Offering’s contests in schools and institutions
In many states of Mexico, schools and government organizations promote the Day of the Dead tradition by holding contests of offerings and altars for the deceased during the celebrations.
Students of all levels make their altars and offerings to the dead at their schools, where Dia de Muertos is also celebrated with costumes. However, there is some fusion between the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead and the Halloween tradition of the United States.
ALTARS CONTEST by the government of the states of southern Mexico
During the Days of the Dead, it is not uncommon to see many altars and offerings at the Great esplanade of the Zocalo, in the city of Chilpancingo, participating in the contest promoted by the government of the State of Guerrero. Similar competitions are also held in other states.
Staff from governmental organizations from all over the state participate in the contest. On those days, people come to see the various altars and offerings to the dead.
During the Dia de Muertos celebrations, people make altars to their deceased, place offerings on them, and cemeteries receive mourners’ visits.
Cries of sorrow are heard all over, but also melodies played in honor of those who have gone on the final voyage we will all make, one day.
Javy Torres is author of BuenosEscritos.com