Day of the Dead in Mexico

México is a wonderful country with so many things to offer to whoever comes and visit.

The Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican celebration that honors the dead. It is celebrated mainly on November 1 and 2, coinciding with the Catholic celebrations of All Souls Day and All Saints Day.

It is a festivity celebrated in Mexico and to a lesser degree in countries of Central America, as well as in many communities in the United States, where there is a large Mexican population. In 2008 Unesco declared the festivity as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Mexico.

The cult of death in Mexico is not something new, since it was already practiced since pre-Columbian times. Likewise, in the Mexica calendar, which is located in the National Museum of Anthropology, it can be observed that at least six festivities dedicated to the dead among the 18 months that form this amazing calendar. Subsequently, the Christian evangelizers of colonial times accepted in part the traditions of the ancient Mesoamerican cultures, fusing them with European traditions, in order to implant Christianity among the natives.

The origins of the celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico predate the arrival of the Spaniards. There is a record of celebrations in the Mexica, Maya, Purépecha and Totonaca ethnic groups. The rituals that celebrate the life of the ancestors are carried out in these civilizations since pre-Columbian times. Among pre-Hispanic peoples, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during rituals that symbolized death.

The festival that became the Day of the Dead commemorated the ninth month of the Mexica solar calendar, near the beginning of August, and was celebrated for a full month. The festivities were presided by the goddess Mictecacíhuatl, known as the “Lady of Death” (currently related to “La Catrina”, character of José Guadalupe Posada) and wife of Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the land of the dead. The festivities were dedicated to the celebration of those who had died during childhood and the lives of deceased relatives.

The passage from life to death is an emblematic moment that has caused admiration, fear and uncertainty to the human being throughout history. For many years, different cultures have generated beliefs about death that have managed to develop a whole series of rituals and traditions either to venerate, honor, frighten and even to mock it. Mexico is a country rich in culture and traditions; One of the main aspects that make up your identity as a nation is the conception that you have about life, death and all the traditions and beliefs that revolve around them.

Anyway, it should be noted that this celebration is not typical of all Mexicans since, despite being a festivity that has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in schools in the country, there are many families that are more attached to celebrate “All Saints’ Day” as they do in other Catholic countries.

In addition, it is worth mentioning the strong influence of the United States, which, at least in border areas, is evidenced by the presence of the festivity known as Halloween, which is celebrated more frequently every year and in a greater number of homes. Hence there is a concern among the Mexicans themselves to want to preserve the Day of the Dead as part of the Mexican heritage.