Day of the Dead festival (Mexico)

by Carlos Luis

Join me on a colorful journey through the streets of Mexico during the Day of the Dead festival, where a sense of wonder and reverence fills the air. The sweet scent of marigolds and copal incense mixes with the sounds of lively music and the laughter of families and friends. The streets are filled with brightly colored altars, adorned with photographs of those who have passed on, and the atmosphere is one of celebration and remembrance.

Honoring the Deceased:

The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a Mexican festival held on November 1st and 2nd. It is a time to honor and remember those who have departed, and it coincides with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. The festival is celebrated in different parts of Mexico, but one of the most striking features of the celebration is the altars, or ofrendas.

Colorful Day of the Dead decorations in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Day of the Dead Street Decoration in Puerto Vallarta, MexicoImage source: Carlos Ivan Palacios/

A Festive Celebration of Life and Death:

These altars are built in homes and public spaces, and they are adorned with offerings of food, drinks, and flowers for the deceased. The altar is decorated with candles, papel picado, and sugar skulls, symbolizing death and the afterlife.

The centerpiece of the altar is the photograph of the deceased loved one, surrounded by offerings. This is believed to be a way to welcome the spirits of the deceased back to the world of the living and to honor their memory.

People gathered at a cemetery during Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico

Day of the Dead at a Cemetery in Oaxaca, MexicoImage source: Kobby Dagan/

Resilience and Vitality

The festival culminates in a lively parade, which takes place in many cities across Mexico. The parade features giant puppets, dancers, musicians, and people dressed in elaborate costumes and makeup. The parade is a joyful and festive celebration of life and death, paying tribute to the deceased in a colorful and lively way.

Participants in the Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City

Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City, MexicoImage source: Diego Grandi/

But the Day of the Dead festival is not just about honoring the deceased. It is also a time to indulge in traditional Mexican food and drinks. Tamales, tacos, and other local delicacies are sold by street vendors, and pan de muerto, a sweet bread decorated with sugar skulls and other symbols of death, is a favorite treat.

Traditional Bread of the Dead with marigold flowers and candles

Traditional Bread of the Dead and Marigold FlowersImage source: Mille H/

Community and Connection:

More than anything, the Day of the Dead festival is about community and connection. It brings people together to honor their loved ones and to celebrate the richness of Mexican culture and tradition.

It is a time to reflect on the importance of family, memory, and the cycle of life and death. Through the stories we tell and the altars we build, the memory of our loved ones lives on.

Group of women wearing Dia de los Muertos sugar skull masks and costumes

Women in Traditional Sugar Skull Masks and CostumesImage source: Moab Republic/

As I left Mexico after the festival, I felt grateful for the experience and the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful celebration.

The Day of the Dead festival is a testament to the resilience and vitality of Mexican culture, and it is a beautiful reminder of the power of community and connection in the face of loss and grief.

So, come join us in Mexico for the Day of the Dead festival, where we celebrate life and death with reverence, joy, and a sense of community that will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired.

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