Experience the Day of the Dead this October

For those of you, who have not visited Oaxaca during Day of the Dead, mark your calendars now for 2008.

The Mexican festivities of “Muertos” are known throughout the world, and Oaxaca’s traditions are among the most elaborate and unique in the country.

Each year at the end of October, Oaxacan families begin preparing their homes to welcome the spirits of their deceased loved ones who, according to local beliefs, are allowed to return to the mortal world for two days. The spirits are received warmly by the delicious smell of their favorite foods and beverages, and their path is lit by candles.

The activities in Oaxaca begin on October 31st with an exhibition of the altars and sand art made at local businesses, shops, galleries and around the tombs at each cemetery. A large pilgrimage of Oaxacans and Mexican and international visitors then proceeds to the General Pantheon where over 3,000 candles are lit, resulting in a spectacular display of flowers and altars beautifully illuminated by subdued candlelight.

What begins as a prayerful procession quickly turns into a large fiesta as the various “comparsas” complete with tall puppets; music and dancing arrive to the cemetery. After the festivities, people return to their homes to eat bread and tamales and drink hot chocolate.

Once the tombs are prepared and the candles lit, tradition says that children’s spirits return on the 1st of November and adult spirits return on November 2nd, so visits to the cemeteries and celebrations continue through those days.

The spirits find their way home easily due to the delicious, familiar smells, sights and well-lit paths, and you can find your way back to Oaxaca on October 31st of 2008 when we, along with those of times-past, will be waiting for you.

While our Spanish course in Oaxaca no longer runs, you can join a Mexican cookery holiday in Tepoztlan and celebrate the Day of the Dead from there in style.