Mexico’s festivities for the annual Dead of the Dead holiday (Diá de Muertos in Spanish) will kick off in less than two weeks, which means now is the perfect time for some travel tips. If you haven’t made any plans, consider this a guide for a last-minute getaway… or for a Day of the Dead 2017 trip planned well in advance.
But first, a little background. Each year, the Day of the Dead is celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 across Mexico. Traditionally, on the first day (All Hallows Eve), altars are prepared for the angelitos (“spirits of dead children”) to return for a visit with the living. The next day, Nov. 1, is All Saints Day, which is for the adult spirits. And Nov. 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to cemeteries to decorate the graves and tombs of their deceased relatives.
Symbols and tokens of the holiday include the widespread use of marigolds, colorful sugar skulls, cardboard skeletons, tissue paper decorations, incense, fruits, nuts, and other traditional foods and decorations. The exact offerings at each tomb vary based on the personality of the deceased, as loved ones will often bring their favorite foods and drinks, poems, photos, toys, and other memorabilia. It’s also important to sweep or otherwise clean up the graves during this time.
Despite the somewhat morbid themes, all the traditions are not somber. In fact, in most places, enormous parties and celebrations are thrown, involving musical and theatrical performances, parades, dances, and other activities. The exact rituals, however, can vary from town to town and city to city, and this article will break it down for seven different locations around Mexico.