21 | NOV | 2019
Day of the dead: Traditional celebrations around Mexico
Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1 and 2 - Photo: Víctor Hugo Rojas/EL UNIVERSAL

Day of the dead: Traditional celebrations around Mexico

31/10/2019
20:52
Newsroom/EL UNIVERSAL in English
Mexico City
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In Mexico, each region has a unique and traditional way to celebrate the emblematic Day of the Dead

In a few days, Mexico will celebrate one of its most important celebrations: the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos)!

On November 1 and 2, Mexicans set up altars, dress up as skeletons, and host parties and this year won't be the exception.

Do you know how to set up a Day of the Dead altar?

Day of the Dead is highly popular among locals and tourists, who join a series of events to celebrate this Mexican tradition with makeup, costumes, food, and music.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Una publicación compartida de Conexion Mexico (@somosconexion) el

Each region has different ways to celebrate Day of the Dead: from the most traditional to the most modern, but without losing the essence of this heritage

Do you want to know all Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City?

The mysterious bone cleaning ritual in Pomuch

Within the framework of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, Campeche stands out from other entities with its traditional and mysterious bones cleaning in the Pomuch cemetery that offers a unique experience.

In the country, on November 1 and 2, each region has a different way to celebrate this emblematic date in Mexican culture. In the case of the town of Pomuch, the tradition highlights its Mayan roots.

In this community, when a person dies, they are buried for three years and are later unearthed on All Saints’ Day; the bones are then put in a wooden box inside a niche to be cleaned by its relatives year after year.
 

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The mysterious bone cleaning ritual in Pomuch

Within the framework of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, Campeche stands out from other entities with its traditional and mysterious bones cleaning in the Pomuch cemetery that offers a unique experience
The mysterious bone cleaning ritual in PomuchThe mysterious bone cleaning ritual in Pomuch

Have you heard of Cempasúchil, the "flower of the Dead"?

The traditional Night of the Dead in Michoacán

Once a year, the cemetery gets full of yellow and orange with cempasúchil flowers, lighted by candles, taking all over the place. Although there is a lot of people, the environment remains ceremonial. Families talk in low voice and, once in a while, they eat something, but they keep their night watch on their dearly departed.

This scene is repeated throughout Michoacán's lake region during Night of the Dead. It takes place between November 1 and 2.

The most famous vigil takes place on Janitzio island, in Pátzcuaro lake. To get there, a 30-minute boat tour is needed, but you must arrive early. There are traditional dances in the afternoon and many people reserve their place. 

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The traditional Night of the Dead in Michoacán

The Night of the Dead takes place between November 1 and 2 throughout Michoacán's lake region
The traditional Night of the Dead in MichoacánThe traditional Night of the Dead in Michoacán

Did you know about the Mexican hairless dog that will guide you to the underworld?

S'ui K'ien, the Mazatec party of the dead in Oaxaca

Every October, to celebrate Day of the Dead, hundreds of dancers take over the streets of Huautla de Jiménez. They sing in chorus while they dance to the rhythm of the drums, guitars, and violins- They are the “huehentones,” characters that give life to the S’ui K’ien, or the Mazatec Party of the Dead, in the region of the Cañada Mazateca in Oaxaca.

“Huehuentones” means “ancestors,” and these dancers represent the souls of the departed that come back to spend some days with their loved ones. They wear “sarapes,” hats made of liane with a long poin,t and jonote masks that simulate the face of old men. Traditionally, huehuentones are men, but women participate too.

The Party of the Dead beings on October 27 when the troupes go to the cemetery to ask Chikon nyoa k’en, the underworld’s guardian, for his permission for souls to come back. Since then until November 4, there will be celebrations in Huautla.

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S’ui K’ien, the Mazatec party of the dead in Oaxaca

Hundreds of dancers take over the streets of Huautla de Jiménez, a Mazatec community in Oaxaca to celebrate the Party of the Dead to the rhythm of the drums, guitars, and violins
S’ui K’ien, the Mazatec party of the dead in OaxacaS’ui K’ien, the Mazatec party of the dead in Oaxaca

Do you know the story behind pan de muerto?
 
Xantolo, Day of the Dead in San Luis Potosí

The Huasteca Potosina celebrates Xantolo. There are 20 municipalities with their own traditions that include dances, vigils, and altars with a common purpose: “to venerate the departed and remember them,” says Alfredo Ortega, project coordinator of San Luis Potosí’s Tourism Culture.

Xantolo is celebrated in San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Hidalgo, and Tamaulipas. The word comes from the Latin “sanctorum” or “saint” that refers to those who passed away.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Two elements are present in all the communities: altars and huehues or ancestors dances. Since October 31, altars are installed in cemeteries and houses. In the top part, they put a palm arch with cempasúchil flowers to represent heaven’s gates.
 

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Xantolo, Day of the Dead in San Luis Potosí

The Huasteca Potosina celebrates Xantolo. There are 20 municipalities with their own traditions that include dances, vigils, and altars with a common purpose: to venerate the dearly departed
Xantolo, Day of the Dead in San Luis PotosíXantolo, Day of the Dead in San Luis Potosí

Have you heard about copal, the food of the gods?

Kuirisi-atakua, Day of the Dead in MIchoacán

Kuirisi-atakua, also known as duck hunt, is an activity from Michoacán that starts on October 31 and concludes on November 2 with the celebration of Day of the Dead.

This tradition used to be held with several neighboring towns but nowadays it only takes place in regions like the Janitzio island, located in Pátzcuaro lake.

This ceremony, differently from others in the country, takes place on October 31: communities organize themselves to go out at a set time to begin the duck hunt.

Hunters use tools such as spears or firearms that help them pursue their mission that, besides being a Day of the Dead celebration, is also a sport.
 

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Kuirisi-atakua, Day of the Dead in Michoacán

Mexico’s Day of the Death is celebrated in different ways throughout the country. Some of them are very special and important ceremonies that can last for several days, such is the case of Kuirisi-atakua
Kuirisi-atakua, Day of the Dead in MichoacánKuirisi-atakua, Day of the Dead in Michoacán

Did you know Mictlán was the Aztec underworld?

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