One of the most folkloric Mexican traditions

The Day of the Dead is one of the most celebrated national holidays in Mexican culture. It’s also received worldwide notoriety due to the peculiar image of death that we have in Mexico: a solemn element, but festive and humorous at the same time.

The roots of the Day of the Dead are derived from both the pre-Hispanic Mexican culture and Spanish Catholicism that, when combined, gave rise to all of the colorful traditions that take place during this festivity. One of these traditions is the altar of the dead, which is a recognized symbol of the holiday.

The belief is that the souls of the loved ones who’ve departed come back from beyond during this time to be with the family. The departed are then received with an offering of their favorite food or drink, fruit, sugar skulls and toys for the children. These altars also include photographs of the deceased and colorful marigold flowers.

The Day of the Dead offerings are located in the family home, although there are people who prefer to put them directly in the cemetery at the gravesite. There are different levels, for example, the most common are the two levels that usually represent the sky and the earth. The offerings of three levels add the concept of purgatory and those of seven levels symbolize the steps necessary to reach heaven and thus rest in peace - the latter are considered the most traditional and complete.

All of the elements and symbols on the altar serve to invite the spirit to travel from the world of the dead to our world. The marigold flower is used for its fragrant aroma that serves as a guide for the spirits, while the candles with their light also help to mark the path. The water helps to quench thirst after the long trip from the world of the dead, and their favorite food is a way to pamper them when they arrive.

There is so much to learn about the Day of the Dead celebration and there’s no better way to do it than by seeing the celebration in person. Pátzcuaro is one of the most traditional destinations to experience this Mexican tradition.

We invite you to visit us! Stay at Best Western Plus Posada de Don Vasco and enjoy the Day of the Dead in all its splendor. We’re located a just few minutes from the city center and one of the docks of the Pátzcuaro lake where you can board a boat for the island of Janitzio.

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Photo: The Mariachi Site