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Day of the Dead, explained by South America Odyssey.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead, a traditional and deep-rooted ancient festival in Latin America has has grown into an internationally recognised festival helped by the opening scene in Spectre, the Bond film starring Daniel Craig, that shone a light on the traditional Latin American festival.

Traditionally the festival has deep roots in Mexico’s pre-Colombian heritage that combines Aztec and Catholic beliefs and rituals. In this celebration of life and death families congregate at graveyards and reunite with deceased ancestors.

Day of the Dead was traditionally celebrated on the 2nd of November, but with globalisation and the close proximity to Halloween, the celebration, for many, has evolved into one celebration under the one banner.

31st October-Halloween has become a large festival in western culture filled with fun and games.

1st November- In Mexico today is better known as Dia de Los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) when families focus their remembrance and celebration on the younger infants and children that have deceased.

2nd November-This is the main day known as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where traditionally families spend the evening at graveyards sharing stories, special food and drinks. The way in which celebrations are held varies substantially between the different communities and regions of Mexico and Guatemala.

What is the history of Day of Dead?

At over 3000 years old the festival has evolved very differently from its roots in pre-Colombian cultures where the festival lasted an entire month and was usually celebrated in modern Day August. It is celebrated across the continent of the Americas in a variety of ways.

What happens on Day of Dead in 2018?

Day of the Dead is now celebrated around Halloween and All Saints Day. In traditional communities in Latin America, especially Southern Mexico and Guatemala, families decorate their houses with alters, candles, traditional food and drinks associated with the festival. Around these very spiritual festivals families have parties, visit graveyards and honour and celebrate those that have passed onto another world.
In the western world children will dress up and play games for treats and try to play spooky tricks on their friends and families.

Recently a large scale parade has taken part in Mexico City that attracts both local and international tourists who wish to see this unique parade that combines traditional rituals and dress with contemporary parties and celebrations in the cosmopolitan capital. For a glimpse of what it looks like then take a look at the opening scene of Spectre, the acclaimed Daniel Craig Bond film.

Why do people paint their faces as skulls?

The skull image was first drawn by Jose Guadalupe Prosada as a means of mocking the upper class as the skull was put on a very well to do and expensive frock highlighting that we are all the same, despite how you dress, and life ends the same. Today this mask and look is known as La Catrina. La Catrina imagery can be seen everywhere during the festivities.

Mexico holiday during day of dead festival


For information about visiting Mexico during this unique period please contact South America Odyssey for the opportunity to get under the skin of this special time in Latin America.

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