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Day of the Dead, what is this Mexican tradition all about?

Dia de los Muertos, translated as ‘Day of the Dead’ is a ritual and celebration that dates back thousands of years. It’s a colourful three day event, largely celebrated as a Mexican tradition to honour the deceased. Delve deeper into this unique holiday with some cool and interesting facts!

It’s Not Halloween

Children enjoying Halloween

Although you may associate ‘the Day of the Dead’ with Halloween, it actually has nothing to do with the spooky holiday. In fact, it didn’t used to be celebrated on the 31st of October at all. It was originally a summertime occasion until the Spanish colonised Mexico, and it was moved to October, to be closer to the christian celebration of ‘All Hallows Eve.’

Visiting The Dead

Mexican Cemetery

A huge part of the tradition is visiting and decorating the graves of deceased loved ones. Some families bring food and wine, and celebrate at the cemetery all night, believing that the spirits of the dead are present with them.

It’s a Happy Occasion

Couple on Day of the Dead

A general misconception of this spectacular holiday, is that it’s a sad and mournful occasion. But, that couldn’t be more wrong. Dia de los Muertos is a celebration with food, drink and music, all the things our deceased loved ones enjoyed when they were alive. The ancient Aztecs believed mourning the dead was an insult, and our tears only made the spirit’s journey more difficult.

It’s Internationally Celebrated!

Horses during Todos Santos, Guatemala

Although it’s known as a Mexican holiday, the festivities are celebrated all over the world. Many countries share similar rituals, such as Spain and Italy, where the graves of the deceased are also decorated. However, in Guatemala, part of the traditions is a festival known as ‘Todos Santos’. Men spend an entire night drinking and then take part in an all day horse race while the rest of the villagers spur them on.

Bread For The Dead

Pan de muerto

Known as ‘Pan de Muerto’ this sweet bread is both tasty and ceremonial. It is usually decorated with doughy shaped bones, skulls or flowers and left on the altar. But don’t think about eating it after the 2nd of November, as it’s believed the spirits have enjoyed the food and there is no taste left when they’re finished!

Hollywood Inspiration!

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

The first parade for Dias De Los Muertos only took place in Mexico City in 2016! It’s hard to believe, and even harder to believe why. The parade was actually inspired by the James Bond movie, Spectre. The franchise’s release in 2015 had a scene that involved Bond chasing someone through the crowd of a Day of the Dead event in Mexico City, inspiring the city to do one for real! And it didn’t disappoint: over 100,000 people came along to enjoy the festivities.

Coco, the Academy Award winning Pixar animated film, was a massive critic’s favorite and box office success, raking in over USD $800 million worldwide. Due to the massive success and popularity of the movie, Disney has given life to Coco, with musical performances at Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion.

Do you want to experience Día de los Muertos for yourself? Check out our Day of the Dead Experience now!