What Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival is really all about

A woman dressed as a “Catarina” takes part in parade down one of Mexico’s main avenues. (Yuri Cortez / AFP)
A woman dressed as a “Catarina” takes part in parade down one of Mexico’s main avenues. (Yuri Cortez / AFP)

By Victoria Craw / News

It’s a 3000-year-old ritual that is getting bigger every year, but this Day of the Dead is set to be one of the most exciting yet.

So with the ancient Aztec ritual coming to a movie screen, Halloween party or pub night near you, here’s what you really need to know about the tradition behind the incredible event.

The Day of the Dead is actually two separate days, where it’s believed the souls of those who have passed to the underworld can come back to visit. November 1 is Dia de los Inocentes which honours children who have passed away, while November 2 is Dia de los muertos, for the adult souls.

It’s a result of Aztec tradition blended with Catholic influence from Spanish conquistadors and falls on the same days as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the religious calendar.

It’s mainly associated with Mexico, but is celebrated throughout Latin America where families come together to welcome their loved ones with their favourite food, drinks, candles, flowers and incense.

“It’s a way of remembering ones’ forebears and wishing them well in the next world,” said Richard Maudslay, Chairman of the British Mexican Society. “It also does a great job in bringing families together. People will either go to the graveyard … or they might well set up a little altar with flowers and food and drink in their homes.”


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