Mexican Holidays October 31, 2017

Day of the Dead: A Rich Mexican Tradition

In Windermere Los Cabos, we are fascinated with the Mexican traditions we are now sharing with the locals, and this holiday is a special one. The “Día de los Muertos” translated as Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico every year in November 2nd, is a tradition that honors the loved ones that have parted and pretends to make peace with the eventuality of death.

There is historic data that shows this celebration was created around 2,500 and 3,000 years ago. Led by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, also known as “Mictlan’s queen” or “Lady of the Dead,” when the celebration lasted a month. But in the XV century, the Spanish arrived and converted natives to the Roman Catholicism. This religion celebrates the “All saints” and “All souls” days in November 1st and 2nd. The natives then adopted these days as their new holidays, combining their ancient traditions with the new roman Catholicism.

The result is a colorful, sentimental, cultural and powerful tradition to celebrate the souls of the dead. The symbols, the family values, and the respect for their loved ones all in one amazing experience.

The Altar and Symbols

During this day, it is common for Mexican families to build a colorful altar to receive the souls of their loved ones. These altars usually share the same elements:

  • A picture: This is one of the main elements of the altar. It is a picture of the loved one that has parted and the family is now honoring.
  • Flowers: The representative orange flowers usually used are called cempasúchil, or Mexican marigold. They are set as a path and represent the bridge between the underworld and the altar. It is also very common to decorate the altar with other flowers, mainly if the loved one the family is honoring liked one type in particular.
  • Chiseled paper: Also known as papel picado, is one of the most representative and colorful ornaments in the altar. For some people it represents the element of air.
  • Food: Food, that the loved one used to enjoy, is also placed in the altar. It is very common to see the altars filled with tamales, local candies such as sugar skulls, fruit, coffee, atole and other meals depending on the region. The family believes that the loved one will take this food and enjoy it like he/she used to do.
  • Personal objects: The family may also choose to include personal objects of their loved one, like clothes, toys, or tools, to decorate the altar. This is believed to make the soul of the loved one feel more comfortable while visiting.
  • Candles: They are used as a symbol of guidance, but also as a symbol of hope. They are believed to show the souls their way to the altar and back.
  • Spiritual elements: As Catholicism is now a big influence in these altars, it is common to find some elements like crucifixes and/or images of the Virgin Mary.

Overall every altar is created with dedication, respect and love to the soul of the loved one.

But for Mexicans, the Day of the Dead is not only about creating an altar or eating pan de muerto; it’s also about visiting their loved ones in the graveyard. Many families take this day off to visit their graves, remember the good moments they shared and pray for their souls.

Day of the Dead in Los Cabos

Interested in visiting an altar in Los Cabos? For 3 years, Flora Farms has been connecting local businesses with local charities through this tradition. The 3rd Annual Day of the Dead Altar Competition will exhibit 13 altars, from October 31st to November 6th, as a fundraiser for 13 different non-profits. In October 31st they will host the presentation of the altars in a lovely event with live music, entertainment, and appetizers.