Thursday 1 October 2015

Day of the Dead in Mexico - Celebración de Día de Muertos en México

Day of the Dead in Mexico / Día de Muertos en México

Cempasúchil, Posada and his Catrina, Calaveras poems, Don Juan Tenorio, Xantolo, Hanal Pixán

El jarabe en ultratumba - The Folk Dance Beyond the Grave - Jose Guadalupe Posada

Day of the Dead in Mexico Celebrations

Day of the Dead in Mexico: Cempasuchil flowers, Calaveras images of Posada, Calaveras poems, Don Juan Tenorio, Xantolo, Hanal Pixán and more. 

The Indigenous Festivity dedicated to the Dead in Mexico was proclaimed in 2003 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO

   The celebration of the Day of the Dead begins in some parts of Mexico on the last days of October until the first days of November, where November 1st and 2nd are the most important days. It can be as simple as lighting some candles at home to remember the loved ones who have died or to visit them in the cemetery, cleaning the tombs and bringing them flowers . The most popular flower is the  cempasuchil [marygold]  originally from Mexico), candies like charamuscas, alfeñique and some food.  
It is also common to set up an altar which is a Pre-Hispanic tradition, either at home dedicated to family members or in public spaces, dedicated to public figures like artists or national Heroes. The altar is decorated with papel picado , fruits, flowers, pictures of the deceased, and sugar skulls. 

Day of the Dead Altar - Altar de Muertos - Day of the Dead in México
Probably one of the most known Day of the Dead celebration outside of Mexico is the one celebrated in Janitzio a small town in Michoacan.One of the best "Day of the Dead" festivals is Festival Cultural de Calaveras in Aguascalientes .
This festival is organized to honor great cartoonist illustrator and artist Jose Guadalupe Posada  who was born in Aguascalientes. His images of "calaveras" (skulls) where the most popular is La Catrina  are associated with Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations.
There is a proposal by Mexico to UNESCO to include Jose Guadalupe Posada's legacy as part of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Although on this article published by El Universal based on research made by historian and journalist Agustín Sánches González seems to be a controversy about who is the author of the famous Catrina, many recognized is Jose Guadalupe Posada, but, it was originally named it "Calavera Garbancera" and the first published image that has been found is from 1913. Diego Rivera designed the body and named it "La Catrina" when he add it to the mural "Sueño de una tarde dominical en la alameda central".

"Calavera Garbancera"  by  Mexican Artist José Guadalupe Posada also named "La Catrina" by Diego Rivera created in 1913 
Another popular Mexican tradition are "calaveras" poems, these are humoruos obituaries about well-known people within any kind of community, schools, companies, etc but the most famous are the ones published in newspapers about politicians and actors. Calaveras are published on November 2nd. like these from El Universal newspaper. 
Don Juan Tenorio of author Jose Zorrila is a theatre drama presented also mainly during November, there are dramatic and comic versions of this drama. This presentation of Don Juan Tenorio in the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara is a dramatic version. 

Traditional Day of the Dead bread - Pan de Día de Muertos

 You will find in public markets during these days: Calaveras (skulls) made of sugar (alfeñique), amaranto, chocolate, charamuscas, pan de muerto (day of the dead bread) and mazapan candies. 

Festivals and Celebrations of Day of the Dead in different regions of Mexico

Day of the Dead in Mexico - Xantolo: Danza de Huehues - San Luis Potosí

Festival de Calaveras - Aguascalientes Ags., México

Festival de Calaveras - Aguascalientes
Festival Cultural de Calaveras in Aguascalientes : Jose Guadalupe Posada cartoonist, illustrator and artist creator of the famous Catrina was born in Aguascalientes. This festival has been created to honor him and to promote the preservation of the Mexican traditions to celebrate the festivities dedicated to the dead.

Altar de Muertos dedicado al historiador Guillermo Tovar de Teresa en el Museo de El Carmen

Museo Dolores Olmedo - Ciudad de México

Concurso de Disfraces de la Calavera Catrina

Museo Dolores Olmedo Xochimilco México 
Espacio de Diego y Frida Ciudad de México 
Concurso de Disfraces de la Calavera Catrina
Cada año El Museo Dolores Olmedo invita a participar en su ya tradicional concurso de disfraces y celebrar el Día de Muertos con La Catrina, uno de los personajes más simpáticos de la temporada. Para mas información visitar: MuseoDolores Olmedo

Fondo de Cultura Económica - Centro Cultural Bella Época

Calaveras Literarias - Ciudad de México

Fondo de Cultura Económica - Concurso de Calaveras Literarias  "Calaveras a Fondo"
Fondo de Cultura Económica 
Concurso de Calaveras Literarias  "Calaveras a Fondo"
Cada año El Fondo de Cultura Económica y El Centro Cultural Bella Época convocan a su Concurso Metropolitano de Calaveras Literarias. Para recibir comentarios o pedir información adicional favor de contactar  

Día de Muertos en Oaxaca

"Día de Los Muertos" in Manzanillo Colima

Day of the Dead Altar dedicated to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

Read article: How Manzanillo celebrates "Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead Celebrations in Mexico (videos)

Día de Muertos en Tzintzuntzan Michoacan

Día de Muertos en Patzcuaro Michoacan

The Indigenous Festivity dedicated to the Dead - UNESCO channel

INAH Documentary "El Juego de los Diablos"
 Celebration of the Day of the Dead in Guerrero's Costa Chica and Oaxaca


Xantolo - Danza de Huehues de Tampaón - San Luis Potosí, México 
Xantolo the celebration dedicated to the Dead in the Huasteca region is not very well known outside of Mexico. The Nahuatl word Xantolo originated from the Latin word Santorum Santoro. The following are sites and videos of this celebration:
Xantolo in Tempoal de Sánchez Veracruz Facebook page
Xantolo: Dead Festivity in the Huasteca region .
Xantolo images

Xantolo Documentary: November 3rd. Anima Sola, Huehues

Xantolo en la Huasteca Documentary

Xantolo Dance in Jaltocan Hidalgo 

Traditional Dance of Day of the Dead in Huejutla Hidalgo

Baile Xantolo Danza de Huehues San Luis Potosi

Xantolo Danza Tamazunchale

Danza de Los Comanches in Tempoal Veracruz

Hanal Pixán  - Mayan Celebration of the Dead

This is an except from the text Hanal Pixan from
Hanal Pixán is the Mayan celebration for the dead in Yucatán and Campeche. The celebration begins with "U Hanal Palal" dedicated to the souls of the departed children. November 1st celebrates the adults departed wit the "U Hanal Nucuh Uinicoob". On November 2nd "U Hanal Pixanoob" or "Misa Pixan"  is a mass dedicated to all souls generally celebrated in the local cemetery.
An altar is set in the houses to honor the deceased and the most traditional altar has three levels that represent heaven, hearth and the infraworld. Red the rest of this interesting article here.
Día de Muertos en Mérida Yucatán - Hanal Pixan

Hanal Pixan in Pomuch Campeche

This is an except from an article of Diario Yucatan
The celebration for the dead in Pomuch Campeche is very unique as family of the deceased visit them in the cemeteries around October 28. For those who have died at least three years before, the families clean the tombs but also the  bones and covered with embroidered napkins. The reason is that when the souls of the deceased  comeback on November 2nd  they will find their bones clean. The napkins used to cover the bones are embroidered with figures related with the personality and age of the deceased loved one. The napkin represent the clothing of the deceased and must be new, otherwise the soul won't comeback to visit the tomb.

Dia de Muertos en Pomuch Campeche

Images from Google:
Pan de Muerto / Bread of the Dead images
Altar de Muerto images
Calaveras de azucar / Sugar Skulls images
Day of the Dead in Mixquic images

Down to the Bone (short film) / Hasta Los Huesos (Cortometraje) - Rene Castillo

San Andrés Mixquic



Bernardo "Berniemack Habagat" Arellano III said...

We're celebrating "Araw ng mga Patay" here in the Philippines...almost the same aspect as that of Mexico's Dia de los Muertos. The difference is, we celebrate/commemorate it on November 1, Dia de Todos Los Santos. Also some Filipino and Asian twist on how we honour the dead. Filipinos all over are heading towards the cementerios around the country. Mexico and the Philippines are so far from each other yet so similar.

Unknown said...

Hi Beniemack: I think the similarities between Mexicanos and Filipinos are the Catholic celebrations Dia de Todos los Santos in November 1st and Fieles Difuntos in November 2nd. It will be interesting to see in your blog how the celebrations in Philippines are.

Bernardo "Berniemack Habagat" Arellano III said...

Yes. I do have several festivals in my blog, mostly mardi-gras fiestas. Just celebrated/commemorated it here with a food, beer and candles lit on our porch. This is one way when we honor the dead if we can't go to the cemetery.

Mark Butkus said...

Well done! You put a lot of work into this topic. I'd like to re-publish a version of this article for the readers of linking back to your original story.

Unknown said...

Thank you! Day of the Dead is a beautiful Mexican tradition. I update this post often based on the current celebrations and festivals, so, please visit it once in a while.

Sarah said...

Thanks so much for sharing this super interesting information! I blogged about this on tumblr where I also have a great video on the Day of the Dead from the Travel Channel. You should check it out: I think you'd like it! Best, Sarah

Unknown said...

H Sarah: Thank you! Very interesting video. I also want to thank you for sharing my post with a link to my blog in MexiCulture.
Mexico's Day of the Dead