The Day of the Dead celebration is one of the most iconic Mexican holidays and traditions. Its decorations and customs are recognized around the world, and while you may be able to spot the colorful calaveras and catrinas, there’s probably several Day of the Dead facts you don’t know. Understanding the history of this holiday is key to understanding how to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Mexico on November 1-2, you’ll get to experience one of the most popular Mexican holidays and traditions for yourself.
While some people mistakenly refer to Day of the Dead as the Mexican Halloween or wonder “Does Mexico celebrate Halloween?”, they’re two separate holidays on different dates. When it comes to how is Halloween celebrated in Mexico, most of the Halloween festivities come from the US. For kids, trick-or-treating is the best part of how is Halloween celebrated in Mexico, and if you’re in Mexico, you’ll hear chants of “Queremos Halloween!” “We want Halloween!” during the Halloween festivities, so have some candy ready! For adults, Mexican Halloween is a chance to dress up and go out to parties. If you’re traveling on October 31 and worried about how does Mexico celebrate Halloween, you’ll be in for a treat, so don’t forget to pack your best costume.
Day of the Dead isn’t the Mexican Halloween. It’s a unique celebration dating back to the ancient Aztecs who believed the souls of departed loved ones were close by, providing guidance and comfort. To help and honor them, families would create ofrendas, altars, with food and drinks. The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead preserves this practice and celebrates the rich heritage of the country.
Altars are still a central part of how to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico, and some of the most interesting Day of the Dead facts are the symbols behind the altars that surround the photos of departed family members.
Candles: These light the way for souls to return.
Water: Water is placed on the altars to quench thirst.
Salt: Salt purifies the soul and spirit.
Marigold flowers: Their bright orange petals also help to light the way for the souls.
Special gifts: Families will put out their loved one’s favorite items, like beer, cigarettes, playing cards, or foods.
Setting up the altars is one of the main Day of the Dead activities, and when you’re in Mexico, you’ll spot these altars all over, in restaurants and businesses. One of the other main Day of the Dead activities is cleaning up grave sites, sweeping away the leaves and placing fresh flowers out. Visitors can respectfully visit the local cemeteries and watch these Day of the Dead activities. During the Day of the Dead celebration on November 1-2, you’ll also see people dressed up like catrinas with brightly painted faces. In many tourists locations, local makeup artists offer their services to help you join in on the Day of the Dead celebration.
While the answer to “Does Mexico celebrate Halloween?” is that they do, although the authentic Mexican holidays and traditions offer a richer look at the country’s culture. After the Halloween festivities end, it’s time for the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, a time to celebrate Mexican culture and remember those who have died. Knowing these Day of the Dead facts will help you appreciate the culture and join in the festivities on your vacation.