One of the most important Mexican traditions is the Day of the Dead celebration. Every year, on November 1 and 2, we celebrate death in a unique way in order to remember our loved ones who’ve passed on. We prepare ourselves to receive their souls and feel closer to them. There are some fascinating Mexican traditions that we observe during the Day of the Dead, which is actually 2 days, although in some places they celebrate all week! This is a list of the significance of the most well-known Day of the Dead traditions.
The offering table, “ofrenda”, is the main symbol of the Day of the Dead celebration. It’s an altar that we prepare with photos of the deceased and where we put the food and drinks that they enjoyed most during their lives. The ofrendas are always full of color, flowers, sugar skulls and candles, which you’ll see in the cemeteries, in homes and also at our schools.
The idea of the Day of the Dead offering is to give a gift to our loved ones who are no longer with us.
These curious sugar skulls have their origin in the "tzompantli", which was the altar used by Mesoamerican cultures, and which was adorned with skulls. After Spanish colonization, Mexico continued the tradition of having skulls on the offering tables. Then that evolved as a few craftsmen began to make them out of sugar.
Nowadays it’s very common to see sugar skulls during Day of the Dead. In fact, we give them to each other at parties with our names on them – it may seem like a bad omen, but in Mexican culture, it’s a symbol of affection.
Perhaps one of the most curious Mexican traditions are the literary calaveritas we write for the celebrations. These writing compositions (or epitaphs) are comical rhymes that refer to situations of famous people, family or friends, using the theme of death, but with a humorous and funny tone.
The delicious bread of the dead, “Pan de Muerto”, is also prepared as an offering for our loved ones who’ve passed on. The traditional Pan de Muerto is round, made with an anise flavor, covered with white sugar, and decorated with strips of dough that simulate bones. This is a very tasty holiday treat that is only made for the Day of the Dead – we highly recommend you try this sweet bread while they last!
The elegant Catrina is the most iconic character of the celebration. The Catrina is a Mexicanized representation of death and one of the most used costumes in the celebration. She’s typically dressed up in period clothes with her face painted like a decorated skull and she is a physical representation of all of the female spirits who’ve passed on.
Now that you know more about the numerous Mexican traditions surrounding the Day of the Dead in Mexico, we invite you to live this celebration in one of the most incredible cities in the country: Monterrey.
At Best Western Plus Royal Courts we’ll be waiting for you so that we can make your stay in the capital city the most excellent experience. Let’s enjoy this famous Mexican celebration that we’re sure you’ll love.
Book your stay online today at Best Western Plus Royal Courts, it’ll be our pleasure to serve you.
Photo: Hora Cero