Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of our favorite Méxican holidays. While losing a loved one is difficult, this day is for celebrating the memories of the deceased and reconnecting with those who have passed. November 1st is the day for honoring children and infants, while November 2nd is for honoring adults.
The celebration is full of beautiful colorful traditions and a time of happiness when the souls of the departed return to visit the living.
Altars are lovingly and carefully built in homes and businesses to honor the lives of family and friends who have passed. They are traditionally draped with papel picado, filled with photos of the deceased and surrounded by ofrendas (offerings) or items that the spirits will enjoy when they come to visit. These are things that the deceased loved during life and are typically food, drinks, games, etc. The altars also include candles to welcome the spirits, marigolds and incense to guide the spirits by scent, salt to represent the continuance of life and pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and sugar skulls which are symbols of the departed and death.
Gravesite cleaning and decorating is also a major part of the holiday. Families gather at the graves of their loved ones, clean the area and decorate the graves with marigolds, candles, photos, mementos, gifts and incense. This component of the holiday is also happy and festive and becomes a social gathering as family and friends tell stories of the loved ones who have passed and welcome their spirits back.
There are also many events and celebrations around the city. Zócalo is filled with alters and sculptures, the streets are peppered with sugar skull painted faces and an annual Día de los Muertos themed bicycle ride takes place through the city streets. It is a wonderful time of year to be in México City.