Honoring the Dead with Flowers and Feasts

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Wed October 31, 2012 | 00:00 AM

PDECRIPCIONBy LuisVG http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PDECRIPCION.jpg

I’d recommend you venture to Oaxaca a couple days before Dia de los Muertos so you can experience all the preparation that goes on in town. Like in the United States with Halloween, black and orange are popular colors especially for the flowers of the day: cempasuchil (sort of a chrysanthemum) and marigolds. You’ll also see the creation of flowered arches for the atrium gates of local churches and the building of altars all over town.

The earliest preparations start a few days before when the children who’ve died post-Baptism are thought to come revisit their families. The next day celebrates the Todos Santos (All Saints’ Day) or Dia de los Fieles Defuntos (Day of the Faithful Deceased) when the adults who’ve passed are supposed to arrive for all-night family graveside vigils that start the evening of November 1 and continue till the next evening. The whole occasion is though to accelerate these souls on their way to heaven.

Our experience was that on November 2 the best place to be was the San Miguel cemetery or San Antonino and San Felipe del Agua. We also ventured up to a tiny little hamlet upon in the mountains called Nopala that offered us less tourist and more locals in what felt like the most authentic part of our trip.

Beyond Oaxaca, some of the other popular places in Mexico to experience Day of the Dead include Mixquic, a small town near Mexico City, which is also know as “The City of the Dead” for its family processions. You might also try Atoyac de Alvarez, 60 kilometers west of Acapulco or Naolinco 90 kilometers northwest of Veracruz.