As I was cheering and dancing at the last Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations in Puerto Vallarta’s super fun Zona Romantica, (check for new listings soon in this destination), I could not stop wondering how people in Mexico came to celebrate this date and how a whole pop culture around the world which erupted from it.
The Day of the Dead celebration has deep roots in Mexican culture, dating back many centuries to Aztec times. It was the celebration of the goddess Mictecacihuatl (the word comes becomes much easier to say after 3 tequilas), the Queen of the Underworld and ruler of the afterlife. This festival originally took place at the beginning of summer but after the Spanish conquest, it was merged with the Roman Catholic celebrations of All Saints Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
So, in the modern day context, the Day of the Dead celebration starts on the 31st of October, when cute little kids go around “trick or treating”. Then, it evolves into the 1st of November, where families visit the graves of their ancestors and clean them or place fresh flowers on them. In Mexico, altars are built and graves are pimped up to authentic art forms. Finally, it quietly subsides on the 2nd, when everybody goes home and prepares for the next one.
What is there to complain about? Here are three great excuses to celebrate all those who led us to our faith, all saints famous and obscure and all those who have departed. The ceremony is particularly interesting because, besides the spiritual meaning, it also acquired a very fun twist…
In other words, if there are between 800 and 10,000 Saints… and if you must celebrate them all… considering that 9 drops fill one teaspoon and 5cl (the standard portion for a shot in Mexico) equals 5 teaspoons – you need 18 shots to start celebrating only the 800 most common saints. If you’re celebrating the famous and the obscure, well, there is really no limit to your celebration. And you have the perfect excuse!
My advice is, enjoy the rich and colorful tradition, eat the Pan de Muertos and the sugar skulls, appreciate the beautiful altars and toast the night away!
— Miguel C
Bon vivant, gastronome and all-around great guy – Miguel Neves de Carvalho brings you the best of what Punta Mita and the surrounding area have to offer. His passions include polo, horse riding, rugby, cigars and most recently … golf.
He started Punta Mita-Rentals in 2012.
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