Thursday, June 8

Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead


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Based on the belief that each November the souls of the dead return to earth to visit their families, Dia de Muertos is one of the most important festivals of the year.  The procession of souls begins on the 1st of November with ‘Dia de los Angelitos’, when the souls of children return and continues on the 2nd, ‘Dia de los Muertos’, when the souls of adults make their journey.

Families often start their preparations weeks earlier, preparing food and gathering ofrendas (offerings) for the traditional altars that are used to both guide and welcome the souls home.  Found in homes, business, schools and cemeteries the altars include photos and offerings such as food (pan de muertos, mole, fruit and chocolate), mezcal, skulls, candles and flowers – Marigolds or Cempasuchil are most common, brilliant oranges, yellows and purples.

During this time it’s customary for families to visit the cemeteries to clean and decorate the graves and often they will spend the night there remembering the lives of those that have died.  While sometimes solemn, it is a celebration of life that will often include food, drinks and music.

One of the best places to experience this is the town of Xoxocotlan, just outside of Oaxaca.  There are two cemeteries in Xoxo (pronounced Hoho) – a small, older one with a solemn feel, and the large main cemetery.  Both are worth a visit but you’ll find the biggest celebrations in the main cemetery.

To find out what is happening each day check our events pages.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Thursday 30th

*  Exhibition of  ‘tapetes de arena’ in the Plaza de la Danza.  These sand tapestries will be on display until November 2nd.

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Friday 31st

* The San Pablo Cultural Centre will be holding an exhibition of traditional altars or ‘altares de muertos’.  These will also be on display on November 2nd.

*  This is the night to visit the cemeteries in Xoxocotlan.

*  A traditional comparsa (parade) de muertos through the streets of Oaxaca.  Starts at 6pm.

Friday 31st and Saturday 1st

*  Make sure you visit the Pantheon de San Miguel to see the exhibition of traditional altars (there’s a competition for the best one), the illumination of the tombs with over 2000 candles, and to try some of the delicious pan de muertos and hot chocolate.  On the evening of the 31st there will also be music and theatre.  The pantheon is open from 10am until midnight and the candles will be lit from 8pm onwards.

*  The Lola Bravo Theatre Company will be conducting history walks through the Pantheon de San Miguel from 4-7pm each day until November 2nd.

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Saturday 1st

*  A traditional comparsa (parade) de todos santos (all saints) through the streets of Oaxaca.  Starts at 6pm.

* Comparsa de Catrinas.  Starts at 8pm in front of Santo Domingo.

* Keep an eye out for Oaxaca’s very first MP3 based flashmob on the streets of the centro historico.

* Magos Herrera will perform a free show at 9pm in the Jardin el Pañuelito, next to Santo Domingo.

Sunday 2nd

*  A traditional comparsa (parade) de todos santos (all saints) through the streets of Oaxaca.  Starts at 6pm.

See the poster below for the full list of events and don’t forget to check out events calendar for the complete guide to what’s happening in Oaxaca.

muertos official programa


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