Dia De Los Muertos – The Day Of The Dead In Mexico

Celebrating Dia de Los Muertos

By the end of my last article, I wrote how excited I was to be here in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos. I never heard of this holiday before I watched the Pixar movie “Coco”. Actually, I reckon that many Europeans don’t know about this festive holiday either.

celebrating dia de los muertos

You won’t only find me in the ocean surfing and diving or in the mountains hiking, but also going to museums and experiencing local celebrations.

Oaxaca City
Oaxaca City

Anyway, I want to introduce to you this day and how I celebrated it in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Oaxaca, Mexico
Sreet art in Oaxaca City

Dia de los Muertos is a very traditional celebration here in Mexico. It occurs on the same date every year, starting from the 1st of November and ending the following day on the 2nd.

traditions dia de los muertos
La Catrina Make-Up for Dia de los muertos

Usually, children and infants are honored on November 1.
And on November 2, deceased adults. Surprisingly, the celebrations can take a humorous tone. Especially when the families remember funny events and anecdotes about the person who passed away.

Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca

Customs

This famous two-day holiday is not only honoring the spirits of the deceased but it also supports their spiritual journey back to Earth.

Oaxaca City
A big ofrenda for Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca City

So what I learned from “Coco” and from celebrating it here in Mexico is that family and friends gather together on these days and visit the graves of their family. Traditionally, the families spend time at their altars, which resemble elaborate shrines, and pray or tell anecdotes about them.
They can be found at home or at the grave sites.

Day of the Death in Oaxaca
Gathering for Dia de los Muertos

Ofrendas and Food

At the colorful ofrendas (altars), the living relatives bring sugar skulls, Aztec marigolds, fruit, nuts or the favorite food of the passed beloved ones to honor them. In Mexico, the marigold is sometimes also known as Flor de Muerto (Flower of the Dead). It is believed that the strong scent guides the souls back to their family’s homes and attracts the souls to the ofrendras.
And I can tell you the ofrendas I got to see are so lovely and beautifully decorated that my heart melted.

Ofrenda Mexico
Ofrenda for Dia de los Muertos

Pan de muerto and Calaveras (skulls) are often eat on the Day of the Dead.
Pan de Muerto is a sweet bun, topped with sugar and decorated with a bone-shape pattern. And Calaveras are sugar skulls.
There are also poems called Calaveras, written about the habits or funny anecdotes about the deceased.

Dia de los Muertos
Pan de Muerto for Day of the Dead

My Experiences in Oaxaca

I truly had a great experience spending Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca. The best part was spending it with my friends, and making new friends along the way.
I think being part of the culture and visiting the private ofrendas was a beautiful experience I will never forget.

calaveras dia de los muertos

I like Oaxaca City so much that I would consider coming back next year to spend Day of the Dead here again. The parade, the visits to the cemeteries and the whole environment were just incredibly exciting and festive.
But the best thing about it – I was able to spend it with Mauricio and my new friend Hannah, whom I met in Tikal, Guatemala.

celebrating dia de los muertos
Me friend Mau and Hannah, whom I met in Tikal, Guatemala

Go To Mexico

If you want to experience a very traditional and cultural festival to understand Mexico better, you NEED to visit during Dias de los Muertos in Mexico.
I am still thrilled about it while I am writing this post.
It is something you really don’t want to miss in your life.
And I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. This was the perfect ending for my Central American trip. It couldn’t have been better in my opinion.

cemetery oaxaca
Visiting the colourful cemeteries for dia de los muertos

Other Places in Oaxaca

Other places you might want to drop by are Mitla, a very important archeological site in Oaxaca. And Monte Albán, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site. Last but not least – El Árbol del Tule with an incredible huge tree trunk I have never seen in my life.

Arbol del tule, oaxaca
The big Arbol del Tule
mitla oaxaca
Mitla – archaeological site in Oaxaca
archaeological site Oaxaca
Monte Alban an archaeological site close to Oaxaca City

And eat and drink at the local market in the center. Don’t miss it to try Mole, my favourite food or sauce from Mexico.
Mole is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexico and has a fantastic taste!

Mexican food
Mole – My favourite food from Mexico
mexican bebidas
A hot drink from Mexico, Oaxaca for cold days
Oaxaca market
Local Market at the center of Oaxaca city

Guadalajara – My Last Stop In Mexico

Now I am sitting in a coffee shop in Guadalajara, Jalisco writing all my memories down and enjoying my last days in Mexico.

cemetery dia de los muertos
Decoration at the cemetery

The months I spent in Central America and Mexico passed so quickly. I’m very happy and nostalgic when I think about it. At this point I would like to thank Mauricio, my very great friend. For traveling with me and having so many adventures together.

ofrenda oaxaca
Ofrenda decoration at the second day for day of the dead

And I will never forget the last few months which have shaped me. I live exactly for those moments. Because I want to have a life full of adventures. Thanks for everything Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala and Belize. You were just wonderful. Words can’t describe how happy I am and how much I value that time. And again how grateful I am for all those experiences in life.

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