Partying in Mexico does not end with death. Traditional celebrations are held yearly in memory of those who have passed away. One of the most important and original traditional fiestas in Mexico, the Day of the Dead happens in the month of November with activities that attest to the close relationshipbetween the ancient cults of Mesoamerica and the Christian religion.
All Saints and All Souls, which are commemorations with European roots, blend with the rituals of indigenous people focused on consecrating their dead. The Mexicas, Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Tlaxcaltecs, and Totonacs lost no time in adopting the religious calendar of the conquistadors as their own.
En México el primero de noviembre se dedica a Todos los Santos, es decir, a rendir culto a los niños muertos a lo largo del año. Al día siguiente, dos de noviembre, se realizan las ceremonias de los Fieles Difuntos, en honor de los adultos fallecidos. Según la tradición, en estas fechas las almas de los desparecidos regresan a convivir con los vivos.
In Mexico the first of November is dedicated to All Saints and is when the children who died during the past year are commemorated. The following day, November 2, there are ceremonies for All Souls, in honor of the deceased adults. According to tradition, on these dates the souls of the departed return to live together with the living.
n order to receive them properly, all the tombs in the cemeteries are decorated with altars covered with flowers and cut-out paper. In order to facilitate the return of thespirits to Earth, families burn copal incense and scatter marigold petals, a yellow-orange flower of that season. They also light votive candles and offer each other candies and typical fruits such as candiedpumpkin, bread called pan de muerto that has bone-like decorations on it, and small sugar skulls.
As a token of love for the deceased their favorite food and drink from when they were alive is placed on the family altar. The food varies depending on the region in the country where the celebration is being held, but surely there are tamales of the local variety, a food traditionally associated with death as it is often cooked underground.
In some regions the members of the community spend the whole night in the cemetery to remember, honor, and even eat and drink with the deceased. In some places, especially in the cities, altars are set up in the houses. Those who do so tend to believe their dead will return during the night to eat the food from the offering.
UNESCO recognizes these fiestas as part of the Intangible Cultural Patrimony of Humanity.
In some places the Day of the Dead has become a spectacular ceremony and, therefore, attracts many people. Several communities in the Lake Pátzcuaro region in Michoacán, the village of Mixquic in Mexico City, and Ocotepec in the state of Morelos are outstanding examples.