Fantasy Friday – Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca

My favorite time of the year – Halloween. I love celebrating this spooky holiday every year. Beautiful autumn leaves, bright orange pumpkins, and crisp cool air all appeal to me.


So why not daydream today about heading down to Mexico to celebrate with them, their most important holiday! They know how to do this the right way – that’s for sure!


From the article “Day of the Dead or El Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca” by Maria Diaz, I discovered what I might expect when I visit Oaxaca myself (hopefully some day!)


During the last week in October, voyeurs come to observe and to photograph the “picturesque” practices of “quaint” indigenous Mexicans. The idea of reunions at family gravesites, complete with music, food and gaiety strike foreigners as strange, to say the least. They stare in wonder at shops filled with candy skulls and calaveras (skeletons) made of wood, paper mache, clay, wax and sugar. Dressed as doctors, judges, teachers, tennis players and prostitutes, the calaveras engage in all kinds of activities from dancing and drinking to hair styling and singing. Every conceivable profession and pastime is burlesqued. Their human-like antics draw smiles from passersby. And indeed, Mexicans view skeletons as funny and friendly rather than spooky and scary.


Today, far from an occasion for curious onlookers, traditions associated with the Day of the Dead reflect the Mexican belief in the duality of life and death. While they mourn and miss their dead loved ones, they also believe that death is just an extension of life. It’s part of a natural progression, not an end. The dead continue to exist and return annually to visit their loved ones. Many of the customs, such as home altars and cemetery vigils, are to help them find their way and to welcome them home.


Important dates for Day of the Dead:

  • October 31 evening – Xoxocotlan, later that night – Santa María Atzompa
  • November 1 – San Miguel (Panteón General) in the city all day and evening.
  • November 2 late afternoon – San Antonino (sometimes this date changes depending on day of week – all travel agencies and tourist information centers should know of any changes).
  • November 2, evening and night – San Felipe del Agua
  • The City of Oaxaca also arranges events at the San Miguel Cemetery, such as exhibition/competition of altars, music, etc.

Hmmm, sounds spook-tacular! For more ideas on where to go and what to see in Oaxaca, visit Oaxaca’s Tourist Guide, where I disovered a town full of lagoons, caves, and majestic waterfalls.


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