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The True Meaning about the Day of the Dead in Mexico

LIFESTYLE | Published on 19/10/2020
Day of the dead mexico
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Of all the holidays celebrated in Mexico, the Day of the Dead festival is perhaps the most iconic. When most people around the world picture Day of the Dead in Mexico, they only imagine the detailed and colorful calavera skulls. However, few people know more of the history of the Day of the Dead celebration Mexico has. Knowing the history of the holiday and different Day of the Dead facts will help you understand Mexican culture and value the true meaning behind the holiday.

What is the Day of the Dead?

The influence of the Aztec empire can still be felt in different Mexican holidays and traditions, and it’s from their respect and love for those who have died that we have the current Day of the Dead traditions. The Aztec people believed in celebrating, not mourning, the lives of those who had passed away. Like many other Mexican holidays and traditions, Spanish and Catholic practices influenced the Day of the Dead celebration Mexico has come to embrace. They even established when is Day of the Dead to align with the Catholica All Souls Day.

When is Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead in Mexico is celebrated on November 1-2. The first day is set aside to honor children who have passed away while the second is for adults. Throughout these days, you’ll see colorful art and festive decorations set up for the Day of the Dead festival.

What are Day of the Dead Traditions?

While some might see this holiday as morbid, different Day of the Dead facts teach you that it’s truly a celebration of life. When it comes to what is the Day of the Dead, the holiday is about coming together and remembering, not crying or falling into sadness. Because the Day of the Dead traditions are centered around remembering and honoring those who have passed away, one of the central practices is the cleaning of grave sites. In cemeteries across Mexico, families and communities come together on Day of the Dead in Mexico to tidy up the area, place flowers, and sit around sharing memories of those who have passed away. One of the more private traditions is for families to build Day of the Dead altars in their homes. You may see some of these altars and memories set up around towns too. 

What are Day of the Dead Altars?


Day of the Dead altars are how most families celebrate and remember their loved ones. These altars can have multiple tiers or be a simple table arrangement. There are a few different elements typically included on an altar:

  • Photos of loved ones who have died are always at the center of an altar.

  • Candles are also included to illuminate the path for their souls.

  • Traditional sweets, like sugar skulls and pan de muerto, are put out.

  • The loved ones’ favorite treats, like candies, soda pop, and even cigarettes, are placed around the altar.

  • One of the lesser-known Day of the Dead facts is that water is set out to represent the purity of the soul and quench the thirst of their loved ones.

How Can I Celebrate Day of the Dead?


Being a part of Mexican holidays and traditions make your Puerto Vallarta vacation a cultural and vibrant experience, and if you know when is Day of the Dead, you’ll be able to join the celebrations. The Day of the Dead festival begins with larger than life catrinas, Victorian-style skeletons, set up along the Malecon boardwalk, each with its own unique dress and art. The Day of the Dead celebration Mexico has also includes a parade starting from the local cemetery and making its way downtown, a procession featuring live music, charro cowboys, and people of all ages decked out like catrinas. Of all the holidays celebrated in Mexico, this is one of the most festive and vibrant ones to witness. 

Of the holidays celebrated in Mexico, there’s nothing quite like Day of the Dead. What is the Day of the Dead? It’s not a morbid or scary festival, but it’s a celebration of life as we remember those who have passed away. It’s a time for sharing memories, not tears. It’s a time for visitors to see the rich culture of Mexico as they too remember their loved ones who have passed on.


Warm up your Day of the Dead festivities with a traditional Mexican hot chocolate. Watch the video for an easy-to-follow recipe.

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