The Day of the Dead in Mexico, a magical celebration

The Day of the Dead in Mexico, a multi-day celebration that starts at the end of October and extends through the first few days of November, is a country-wide holiday and one of Mexico’s most meaningful, symbolic and beautiful traditions, proclaimed Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Not only is the holiday a unique celebration that brings all communities together, but Mexico City’s Gran Desfile de Día de Muertos (Grand Day of the Dead Parade), now in its fourth year, is a showcase of the country’s rich culture; the parade features allegorical floats, skeleton puppets called catrinas and huge skulls that make their way down one of the city’s main avenues, Paseo de la Reforma, towards the sprawling capital’s Zocalo.

This year’s event, celebrated on November 2, will host a special delegation from China, which will present their own ritual for the holiday that includes a traditional dragon dance.

This massive parade is a reflection of the country in terms of the complexity, unity, diversity and relevancy of its people and their traditions. Interestingly enough, the parade was inspired by the big screen: the movie Spectre from the James Bond saga.

Large skeleton puppets based on the work of artist José Guadalupe Posada embody the celebration and will be joined by an entire procession of mobile offerings, dancers and alebrijes (sculptures of mythical features). Family and friends come together to remember people who have passed away by building maravillosas offerings called ofrendas, a combination of nostalgia and happiness where the altar is a metaphor for life, leading the souls of the dead to their loved ones.

The parade will also showcase the history of Mexico, from the pre-Hispanic era to the present day, including Spanish colonization, independent and revolutionary Mexico, and several other important chapters that have shaped Mexico into the nation it is today.

Mexico City will also host the traditional Pan de Muerto y la Calaverita (Day of the Dead Bread and Sugar Skull) Festival from October 19 to 22. Visitors can taste over 60 types of this traditional bread with different fillings like jam, dulce de leche, butter, hazelnut cream, whipped cream, cream cheese, and many more. More than 30 artisanal bakeries participate in the festival, serving up traditional drinks and endless flavors of atoles, from champurrado and rice to chocolate, strawberry and rompope.

The Day of the Dead festivities kick off in Mexico City this year on October 24 with the official announcement by the Secretary of Culture of the Capital at the Monument to the Revolution.  On October 25, the maravillosa Mega Ofrenda (Mega Offering) will be inaugurated in the Zócalo, in the heart of the capital’s historic center, and will be open to the public through November 17. The Mega Proseción de las Catrinas (Skeleton Parade) will take place on October 26 and the International Day of the Day Parade will take to the streets on October 27.

We invite you to experience this maravillosa Mexican tradition with a trip to spectacular Mexico City. We just know that you’ll find the magical Day of the Dead, a celebration like no other in the world, truly fascinating!

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