Traditions in Mexico: Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead is one of the most important and traditional festivities in Mexico, essential for its pop culture!

November 1st and 2nd are very important dates for Mexico, because the nation celebrates Day of the Dead. During the festivities, the entire country joins in a wholesome celebration, starting off with setting up special altars to remember their loved ones, which include photos of the deceased, items they collected or that make a certain reference to them and their favorite meals. The reason behind this is that, according to the tradition, during this time the souls of those who passed away descend into our world to visit us, and we here on Earth pamper them to the fullest!

Mayan culture

Today, the custom- which dates back to pre-Columbian times- has blended with the Catholic religion and has originated and created a great tradition, where these days in particular are celebrated with a series of rites and customs, depending solely on the region of the country. This means that every state in the nation commemorates Day of the Dead in their own unique way, featuring several customs and traditions.

The south east area of Mexico still preserves closely different attributes from the Maya culture; in fact altars in the Yucatan Peninsula have seven steps, which is a clear reference to Xibalba(the Maya underworld). Now we’ve mentioned the Yucatan Peninsula, let me tell you that the entire festivity is known as Hanal Pixan, meaning in English food of the souls, and starts with people cleaning their houses (sweeping the entire area, the patio, furniture, and even washing clothes!) because tradition dictates that souls don’t like dirt or mess; so much that if the time comes for them to visit us on Earth and the place isn’t clean, the souls of your loved ones will do it for you, so don’t be alarmed if you hear noises in the middle of the night!

Afterward, the preparations of the Mucbipollo begin, which is a special dish that is generally eaten only during these days. You may wonder what it is… It’s rather similar to a cooked tamal, however the dough has special beans from the region called espelón, and features a turkey or chicken filling with vegetables and a special sauce called kol, based on the dough.

On November 2nd, families head down to cemeteries and pay their respects and rejoice upon the former lives of their loved ones; they spend quality time together, reminiscence the time they had with those who parted, and simply enjoy a day out. Cemeteries are filled with joy and color everywhere, because vendors sell flowers and tombs are decorated with their picturesque petals; music couldn’t be missing of course, who dedicate their rhythms to their loved ones, and play and sing songs like Puño de tierra and Sigo siendo el rey.

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