Day of the Dead, a real Mexican tradition “The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death. (He) jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it. It is one of his favorite toys and his most steadfast love.”
Octavio Paz

If this quote demonstrates anything, it is that the Mexican culture has a unique and intimate relationship with death, a relationship not much of the rest of the world truly understands.

Dating back to pre-hispanic time, the native cultures that inhabited Mexico and Central America actively practiced a ritual that appeared to mock death. There relationship with fatality was not at all like the Europeans, a group of people that saw death as merely the end of life. For the natives, it was nothing more than a stage, a passage to something else.

Although the Spanish attempted to eradicate this ritual, among other practices, this particular practice survived and eventually became engrained into North and Central American Catholicism. It has been carried throughout many years and it is celebrated today.

Colorful skulls

November 1st and 2nd are the two days in which Mexico celebrates The Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos. Although it is celebrated about the same time as Halloween, Day of the Dead originates from a different notion. Halloween comes from an ancient Celtic celebration to ward off evil spirits that are trying to enter the natural world whereas Day of the Dead is merriment and honors and welcomes the spirits of loved ones that have passed. Those that celebrate Halloween wear masks and costumes to scare away the evil spits and those that celebrate Day of the Dead offer beautiful floral arrangements, sweets and food to the spirits in a much more hospitable manner.

The colors alone during Day of the Dead celebrations are beautiful but when it all comes together, the festivities, the smells, the sights and sounds; it is something every traveler must see at least once. A lot of skulls and skeletons are used as decorative purposes and to those of who are not familiar with this particular celebration, it can appear to be morbid. But the skeletal figures represent the mysteries and complexities of both death and birth and are not meant to be at all morose. Often the colors of purple, yellow, white, orange, red and pink are mixed together in all of the festivities décor and all colors carry a unique representation.

· Purple = pain, suffering and grief

· Yellow = Often represented in the flower, Marigolds, represent death and the petals are used to make paths to guide the souls home.

· White = Like many other cultures, white represents purity and hope.

· Red = The blood of life, something that sustains the human body and soul.

· Pink = celebration

Although it is celebrated in some areas of the United States and Central America, Day of the Dead is something that is primarily celebrated throughout the entire country of Mexico. From the northern-pacific regions of Baja California to the Yucatan Peninsula, November 1st and 2nd is an extraordinary time to visit, a time in which an age-old tradition comes to life in celebration of death in a very unique and joyful way.

A tribute to dead.

Flowers and colors in the Mexican celebration.   Traditional food in the altar.

YH Quick Giveaway Questions

1. Who is the author of the quote mentioned at the beginning of the post? Mention one book written by this author.

2. What American celebration is related to or similar to the Day of the Dead?

3. When do Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead?

4. Name the difference between the way Halloween and Day of the Dead is celebrated.

5. Share a personal opinion on the way Mexicans celebrate the dead. Do you like it or dislike it?

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About the Author

kristin Kristin McCollum is a travel writer that has spent the past year traveling and working throughout Europe and Mexico. Now settled on theYucatan Peninsula, she finds inspiration in every person she meets and in the natural beauty which surrounds her. Follow Kristin on Twitter.

Writter Bio

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COMMENTS

24 Responses to “Mexico’s Celebration of Death: An Age-Old Tradition”

  1. Mylene Paquin

    1 – Octavio Paz : Figures & Figurations
    2 – Halloween
    3 – November 1st and 2nd
    4 – Halloween comes from an ancient Celtic celebration to ward off evil spirits that are trying to enter the natural world whereas Day of the Dead is merriment and honors and welcomes the spirits of loved ones that have passed.
    5 – I love the colors and personality of it!!

    Reply
  2. shelley Loring

    1. octavio paz
    2. halloween
    3. november 1st and 2nd
    4. Those that celebrate Halloween wear masks and costumes to scare away the evil spits and those that celebrate Day of the Dead offer beautiful floral arrangements, sweets and food to the sp…irits in a much more hospitable manner.

    5. I think it is a great way to honor those you love.See More

    Reply
  3. Trevor B. Piecuch

    1. Octavio Paz. “Huellas del peregrino / Pilgrim Tracks: Vistas del Mexico independiente / Views of Independent Mexico”.
    2. Halloween
    3. November 1st and 2nd
    4. Those that celebrate Halloween wear masks and costumes to scare away the evil spirits. Celebraters of the Day of the Dead are more hospitable, and offer beautiful floral arrangements, sweets and food to the spirits.
    5. I like the Mexican way of celebrating the dead, as it is more welcoming and less offensive to the spirits.

    – Trevor Piecuch

    Reply
  4. Rex Brien

    1. Octavio Paz, Luna Silvestre
    2. Halloween
    3. November 1 and 2
    4. Halloween is to ward off evil spirits; day of the dead is to honor and welcome spirits of loved ones who have passed
    5. I like it, you can always remember and celebrate your loved ones who have passed

    Reply
  5. Paul K

    1. Octavio Paz The Labyrinth of Solitude
    2. Halloween
    3. November 1st and 2nd
    4. Halloween comes from an ancient Celtic celebration to ward off evil spirits that are trying to enter the natural world whereas Day of the Dead is merriment and honors and welcomes the spirits of loved ones that have passed.

    5. I love the Día de Muertos celebrations. I have spent the pas two Novembers in Mexico and have enjoyed it each time. I understand that it is more of a spiritual connection for the people.

    Reply
  6. Tiffany

    ‎1) Octavio Paz has written “Figures and Figurations”.
    2) Halloween is similar to Dia De Los Muertos.
    3) Nov. 1st and 2nd is when Day of the Dead is celebrated.
    4) Halloween is traditionally celebrated as a means of warding off evil spirits, w…hereas Day of the Dead welcomes the spirits of loved ones passed on.
    5) I love the concept of Day of the Dead. That’s why I have a sugar skull tattoo from Playa!

    Reply
  7. Michelle Edwards

    1. octavio paz, author of A Tree Within
    2. halloween
    3.. November 1 & 2
    4. halloween = ward off evil spirits
    day of the dead = welcomes spirits of loved ones
    5. i like the way it is celebrated and shows love for people that have passed away

    Reply
  8. gabbie hulbert

    1. Octavio Paz: The Labyrinth of Solitude
    2. Halloween
    3. Nov 1 & 2
    4. Halloween is scary costumes to ward spirits away DOD is with floral arrangements, sweets and food to welcome them.
    5. I love it!! Sprits aren’t always evil- they watch over us in good times and bad…welcoming them is the best way to do it!

    Reply
  9. Jennette

    1 A Draft of Shadows, and Other Poems
    2 halloween
    3. nov 1 & 2
    4 day of the dead celebrate honors and welcomes spirits of loved ones, halloween wear masks to scare away evil spirits

    5. Day of the dead is my favorite celebration, most fun, most colorful and a down right good time

    Reply
  10. Roger Lorenz

    ‎1. Who is the author of the quote mentioned at the beginning of the post? Mention one book written by this author.Octavio Paz The Traps of Faith,

    2. What American celebration is related to or similar to the Day of the Dead? Halloween

    3. When… do Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead? Nov 1 and 2

    4. Name the difference between the way Halloween and Day of the Dead is celebrated.Halloween comes from an ancient Celtic celebration to ward off evil spirits that are trying to enter the natural world whereas Day of the Dead is merriment and honors and welcomes the spirits of loved ones that have passed

    5. Share a personal opinion on the way Mexicans celebrate the dead. Do you like it or dislike it?
    I love the fact that it’s a celebration!See More
    about a minute ago · LikeUnlike

    Reply
  11. Sharon/Queencityfan

    ‎1- Alternating currents
    2 halloween
    3 november 1 & 2
    4 halloween people wear masks and costumes to scare the evil spirits and the Day of the dead people make tributes to their loves ones that have passed away
    5 I love the beautiful altars that… you can see around the Day of the dead that show the interest of the person who passedSee More

    Reply
  12. Tracy Robbins

    ‎1. Octavio Paz, The Labrynth of Solitude
    2.Halloween
    3.November 1 and 2
    4.Halloween is celebrated by wearing costume to ward of spirits while Day of the Dead is celebrated wearing beautiful floral arrangements to welcome the spirits of passed… loved ones.
    5.I like it because its a celebration and the way it remembers your loved ones who are no longer with you.

    Reply
  13. Andii

    Octavio Paz, Labrynth of Solitude

    Halloween

    Nov 1 & 2

    Halloween comes from an ancient Celtic celebration to ward off evil spirits that are trying to enter the natural world whereas Day of the Dead is merriment and honors and welcomes the spirits of loved ones that have
    passed
    I think treating the passing of loved ones with merriment and celebration is a better way rather than fearing the unknown and forever being mournful of the passing and I do like it

    Reply
  14. Kathleen

    ‎1. Octavio Paz- poemas y ensayos….El laberinto de la soledad
    2.Halloween
    3. Nov.1&2
    4.Those that celebrate Halloween wear masks and costumes to scare away the evil spits and those that celebrate Day of the Dead offer beautiful floral arrang…ements, sweets and food to the spirits in a much more hospitable manner
    5. I love it. It’s a good way to remeber those you have lost.

    Reply
  15. Stacie Pojero

    Stacie Pojero ‎1. Octavio Paz & Alternating Current
    2. Halloween
    3.Nov 1 and 2nd
    4. Halloween scares off the spirits – Day of the dead honors them
    5. Personal opinon: it’s a great way to honor those that have passed.

    Reply
  16. Marla Vierboom

    1. Octavio Paz, Mexico Celebrates the Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos

    2.Halloween

    3.November 1st and 2nd

    4.Those that celebrate Halloween wear masks and costumes to scare away the evil spirits and those that celebrate Day of the Dead offer beautiful floral arrangements, sweets, and food to the spirits in a much more hospitable manner.

    5. I like that it is pretty and colorful instead if morbid and scary.

    Reply

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