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dia de los muertos in Mexico

dia de los muertos in Mexico

here I am writing from Mexico, my father's birthplace--and where many of my cousins still dwell--a land rich with culture and tradition. I feel so lucky to be here. as with most my travels, it was a very last minute trip and decision. having lived the last 6.5 years mostly abroad, being in quarantine the last 6 months has been very challenging for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. when the thought of making a trip to Mexico first crossed my mind a couple months ago I wasn't ready for it, but everything changes with time. 

when I found out a girlfriend of mine was in Mexico city, it gave me the courage to book my trip and meet her there where we spent an incredible 3 days together before renting a car and road tripping to Michoacán, where I have family, and also where they celebrate Dia de los Muertos the biggest.  

dia de los muertos altar 

so what exactly is Dia de los Muertos? it is a holiday celebrated throughout most of Mexico and many parts of Latin America where families celebrate their departed loved ones for the lives they lived. it is a celebration full of color and tradition--where the souls of those who have passed are kept alive. the exact origins are unknown, but what is known is that it's a mix of Catholic and indigenous customs. specific traditions vary by region but they are always colorful and lively. 


dia de los muertos morelia catrina

traditionally, families unite to put offerings together for their loved ones. below I'll break down the manner in which the altars are decorated in my father's home state of Guanajuato--I borrowed this information from Yo Guanajuato!  

dia de los muertos marigold flowers and sugar skulls

October 28:
Light the first candle and place a white flower on the altar for all the lonely souls. 

October 29: 
Light another candle and place a glass of water on the altar for all the forgotten and lost souls. 

October 30:
Light another candle and place another glass of water on the altar and a piece of bread for those who left this world without a final meal or who died in an accident. 

October 31:
Today is All Saints Day--it's believed that at mid-day all the angels who passed on as kids return to earth. You should fill your altar with food offerings. 

November 1:  
Today is All Saints Day--when the souls of those who passed on as adults return to pick up and eat the food offerings left by their loved ones. You should burn incense and decorate a path of marigold flowers to lead the souls to your altar. 

November 2:
Light your last white candle, burn incense, and bid farewell to the loved ones who have returned to visit, ask them to return next year, and end the day by clearing out your altar. 

dia de los muertos white candle and catrina

as you can see altars are all very elaborate and a demonstration of the great love we still feel for those who have passed onto another life--a beautiful way to honor our ancestors and loved ones. I hold this holiday very close to my heart, and am very happy to be here for it. 


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