Discovering Mexican Traditions
On November 1st and 2nd Mexico wears orange; the scent of cempazúchitl flowers –typical of this season– fills every home while twinkling candles light public squares and, above all, cemeteries. Have you guessed why? On these days families and friends honor the departed by means of a peculiar tradition: Offerings for the Day of the Dead.
History of Día de los Muertos
These offerings were already made by Prehispanic cultures but they were then added Spanish culinary and decorative elements. This way of commemorating the dead begins when Mexicans go to local markets to buy candles, pan de muerto –a delicious baked good that’s exclusive of this season–, flowers and all the ingredients that are needed to prepare the dishes the late used to love.
Once they have these elements ready, they choose a special place to serve them on colorful table mats made with perforated tissue paper decorated with images of dancing skeletons, one of which is the popular Catrina –an elegantly dressed female skeleton created by the Mexican engraver José Guadalupe Posada.
At night, candles are lit and all the food is served, including drinks like tequila; and with this effective bait, people attract the souls of the dead so that they enjoy a feast in their honor and know that they are not forgotten.
If you want to see how this original festivity is celebrated, DINKtravelers proposes visiting two emblematic sites in Mexico City.
Megaofrenda de Ciudad Universitaria
The National Autonomous University of Mexico is not only famous because of the academic life that takes place in its premises but also because it’s a worldly renowned cultural center.
During November it commemorates the dead with great creativity, organizing over 20 simultaneous offerings –one per Faculty– all of which are elaborated by students. Every year they dedicate the offerings to a different character thus creating a thematic route.
Dolores Olmedo Museum
This museum that’s located in Xochimilco used to be home to a Mexican art patron and collector from the 20th century. Nowadays it houses a museum that exhibits Dolores Olmedos’ collection as well as some of Diego Rivera’s and Frida Kahlo’s paintings. Also, this site is famous for the beauty and originality of its life-size offerings. Every year they set up a route along several of its galleries and they honor the dead with great humor. The offerings they make there are dedicated to different cities around the world, and one of the most popular and visited so far has been the one dedicated to Paris.