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¡Yo Quiero Mi Halloween! Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos

All those years living in Mexico, I could remember kids yelling “Yo quiero mi Halloween!” from October 30th to November 2nd. Since moving to the US, I now realize that Halloween is only celebrated on October 31st.  Like the U.S. version, the streets of Mexico are filled with kids dressed in their favorite costumes asking for candy. But the traditional Mexican celebration is not Halloween but Dia de los Muertos.

Dia de los Muertos, which is celebrated on Nov 2nd, is a Mexican celebration dedicated to loved ones that have passed away. This tradition dates back to pre-Hispanic times. On this day, cemeteries are filled with families cleaning their loved ones graves and decorating them with flowers, favorite foods, and items of the deceased. To help guide the souls, lit candles are placed around the grave as a pathway. It is common to see celebrators wearing masks or actually painting sugar skulls on their faces, This is done to overcome the fear of death and welcome it.

Another tradition is to create an altar de muertos. The altar consists of a covered table with a few crates or boxes placed on top to create open shelves and other raised display areas. A picture of the deceased is placed on the alter surrounded by personal belongings and any offerings the person enjoyed in life such as a bottle of tequila or their favorite foods.

Dia de los Muertos also has candy and goodies for the living to enjoy. Usually the streets of Mexico are filled with farmer market style stalls selling all kinds of candy skulls, Chocolate Coffins, pan de muerto, hot chocolate, and tamales. Along with these goodies you can also find stalls selling colorfully decorated ceramic skulls, skeleton figures dressed in traditional Mexican clothing, and all kind of toys relating to death.

One of the icons of Dia de los Muertos is la Catrina, a female skeleton sometimes dressed in an elegant dress or as bare bones.  The famous Mexican print maker, cartoon illustrator, and lithographer Jose Guadalupe Posada version of the Catrina is the most well known.

Hasta los huesos

Día de muertos en Oaxaca

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