Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is considered one of the most representative traditions of Mexican culture. This is a multi-day holiday that takes place from October 31st to November 2nd.
During this time, a door is opened for the souls of the departed to crossover from the land of the dead and visit the earthly realm. This is a similar concept to Halloween, the difference is that during Halloween
the spirits that visit are thought to be feared, while in Mexican culture the visiting spirits are believed to be beloved family members.
November 1st is dedicated to the “little angels” and honors children and infants who have passed away. November 2nd is the day dedicated to remembering and honoring deceased adults. This tradition dates back to pre-Hispanic times and has since been celebrated through various rituals by more than 40 indigenous groups in the country.
Originally, according to the Aztec tradition this festival celebrated the Queen of the Underworld, Mictecacihuatl (lady of the dead) and her husband Mictlantecuhtli. They ruled over the land of Mictlan, the lowest level of the underworld. The job of Mictecacihuatl was to oversee the festivals of the dead. When the newly dead were buried, the worldly goods buried with them were intended as offerings to Mictecacihuatl and Miclantecuhtl to ensure their safety in the underworld.
After the Spanish conquest and the influence of the Catholic church, this tradition became the Day of the Dead as we know it today. In the modern version, Calavera Catrina is the Queen of the underworld. Catrina is a skeleton dressed in fine clothing that features in many paintings. During this multi-day festival, the towns and cities in Mexico come to life with parades and exhibitions and you can find many people dressed as up as living Catrines or Catrinas.
Another essential part of this tradition is visiting cemeteries. Either day or night, families gather at the graves of the departed and respectfully place floral arrangements and candles on the graves to show the souls the way to return home. They also build special commemorative altars called ofrendas that are decorated and covered in marigolds and place offerings are placed on the altars which their loved ones enjoyed in life.
Another way to celebrate is to prepare an altar of the dead in the families’ own houses, in buildings or public spaces, where altars are placed in honor of one or more deceased. The elements that can be found on the altars of the dead are:
Colored confetti: usually purple, pink and orange colors that symbolize the union of life and death.
White candles: a symbol of love that guides souls to the altar.
Incense: The incense is burned because the aromas purify the souls of the dead
Flowers: especially marigolds (cempasúchil) because their vibrant colors are thought to help guide the spirits to their altars. They also represent the fragility of life. Flowers are also a sign of love and respect.
Personal objects of the deceased and photographs: in the form of a tribute.
Favorite Foods: Drinks and favorite foods of the deceased, even perhaps some liquor or cigars. The food and drinks offer sustenance to the visiting dead giving them enough energy to return to the underworld. Water is also offered to refresh the spirits after their long journey.
Sugar Skulls: commonly with the name of the deceased written on the forehead.
Dead Bread: (pan de muerto) this sweet bread is only made around this time of year.
To honor this beautiful tradition, Hotel Garza Blanca Preserve and Hotel Mousai, made a tribute to those who “are no longer with us” and offered an exhibition of altars in different locations around both hotels, each department of the hotel was responsible for the assembly and decor.
These altars are on display from November 1 to 3. We invite you to witness this magnificent exhibition, where you can live the Mexican day of the dead experience.