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Dia de Los Muertos-The Most Alive Mexican Celebration

Dia de Los Muertos is one of the most cherished celebrations in Mexico. Every state celebrates this festivity in its own way but retains the premise which is to honor loved ones who have passsed away, to celebrate their life and pray for their souls rest. For those who don´t know what happens during this celebration we invite you to discover it.

The History of Day of Dead Celebrations

The origin of this celebration begins with the Mexica, Maya, Purépecha and Totonaca indigenous civilizations. Their belief is that when a death occurs their souls live for eternity.  Once a year their God gives permission to the deceased souls to visit their families and friends for two days. On the first day, November 1, children are allowed to descend to earth and visit their families. There are special rituals like placing altars at home full of candies and toys to welcome them and the creation of the path of Cempasúchitl, also known as flower of the dead, where marigolds are placed from the entrance of the houses to the altars so the souls don´t get lost.

On November 2nd adults souls have permission to visit their families. Altars are decorated with their pictures, their favorite meals and desserts including favorite drinks like tequila or Mezcal.

During this two day celebration, each soul receives a treat from families and friends. People visit the cemetery bringing flowers, beer, flower arrangements and mariachis to play the favorite songs of the departed. All families gather around the burial tombs of their family members to pray, eat and share anecdotes of the loved ones.

Create Your Own Day of the Dead Altar

The following is a basic guide to create your own altar at home. It is actually very simple and you can make it as practical or elaborate as you want.




The Guiding Path – Cempasúchitl Flowers (Marigolds)are used to create the path from the entrance of your house to the altar. Other flowers like gardenias are used to decorate the Altar.

The Altar Arch – The altar arch represents the entrance of the dead. Wood sticks are used to create the arch and tissue paper decorations and flowers cover the structure. The colors used to decorate the altars have a special meaning. Purple symbolizes mourning, white represents purity. Orange, dark pink and green are also used when decorating and creating Day of the Dead altars

Altar Decorations and Offerings – Each family choices a series of different decorations to represent their deceased family member. These decorations can be:

  • Skulls made of sugar or chocolate to represent death.
  • Glasses of water for the thirsty.
  • Incense to purify the energy
  • Fruits to decorate the arch of the altar; tangerines, oranges, apples, etc.
  • Pictures of the loved ones.
  • the favorite meals, drinks or cigarettes of the loved ones but you can add more.
  • Chocolate and pan de muerto (bread of the death) are the signature treats for this celebration and can be purchased at any Mexican grocery store or cooked at home.
  • Sweets made of fruits, sweet potato, pear, pineapple, etc.
  • Candles that will be lighted and carefully placed around the altar to guide the souls during the evening celebrations.

Tradition says their souls will arrive at the altars during the night and will take with them the smell of every meal, drink and candy you have placed at the altar. The next morning you will find the fruits a little dry, the chocolate with a less strong smell of cocoa and the meals a little tasteless. That is how you know your altar was successful and your loved ones have visit you.



Day of the Dead is a Happy Celebration in Mexico

Other cultures might think this is a sad time but Mexican tradition thinks of this time very differently.  Day of the Dead is the time to celebrate, it is the time to thank and appreciate the time our relatives or friends have spent on earth and pray for their souls. It is a time to recall the good times had with our family members and let them know we haven´t forgotten.

It is a major celebration and also a reminder that no matter how soon they have gone, they are still alive in our hearts and they will never be forgotten.


In the Riviera Maya Day of the Dead is celebrated big time with Life and Death Festival at Xcaret on October 30, 31st and November 1st and 2nd. Hundreds of people attend the special events related to the Dia de Los Muertos, including dances, authentic gastronomy and decorations.

When purchasing the ticket to the Xcaret park during those days you will have access to the evening festivities for free. Buy your tickets to Xcaret now to gain access to this annual festival  Xcaret 10% off + 5usd

Paulina is a crazy animal lover who has been living in the Riviera Maya for over 9 years. Her expertise is designing unique vacations for travelers and visitors. This comes from her desire to share her area knowledge, local restaurant secrets, and cool cultural experiences that have been a large part of her life on the coast. Paulina never sits still on her day off as she feels there is always something to see, a new beach to check out or a new restaurant to try. She loves answering questions and helping you plan your next vacation. [email protected]

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