Regions where Day of the Dead is celebrated

Regions in Mexico where Day of the Dead is celebrated


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Regions in the states of Oaxaca, México, and Michoacán have special traditions to commemorate the Day of the Dead. A visit to these states during the celebration becomes an unforgettable experience.


In Nejapa de Madero, Oaxaca, preparations begin as earky as a month before when the stalks are chosen for the family altars, typical foods are slowly prepared, and mezcal is bought.

On November 1, people adorn the graves of their "little angels" (angelitos), those who died as children. Church bells begin their two-day day and nigth tolling. On November 2, people gather to hear priests give sermons for the souls of the deceased, while bands play traditional music. People search the neighborhod for the souls of relatives who cannot find their way home. They visit neighbors' houses saying: "Will you give me a dead soul?" If the neighbor is just an acquaintance, he/she says to them: "proceed to the altar to pray", after which they are given something from the altar. If the neighbor is a friend, they are shown to the dining room where they are given mezcal, an alcoholic drink, and food. One must have a big appetite and a high alcohol tolerance level, because one eats and drinks at every house visited.

In Metepec, bells announce the arrival of the souls of both children and adults. People dress in black during the entire celebration, and families recite the 9th psalm and burn copal and incense. In addition, a great variety of famous ceramic ware is produced during this celebration.


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Tradition has it that children's souls arrive on November 1 at 8 a.m. Upon their arrival, they are served with a breakfast consisting of arroz con leche (rice pudding), chocolate, pumpkin seed candies, almond sugar dough and bread. At 8 p.m., the adult souls are believed to return. The offering to them consists mainly of tamales of three different colors (made from three different types of corn), a plate of mole with the soul's favorite chicken piece, camotes, chayotes, pulque, water, raspberry wine, guayaba or lemon, etc. A common practice is for people to put pictures of the dead soul and its saints with the offerings in order to be protected by them. While the children's souls leave at 12 noon on the same day (November 1), the adults are said to leave at 2 p.m. on the following day (November 2).


In Janitzio island, in the state of Michoacán, November 1st represents a day of great feasting. At midnight, the rituals spread out around Lake Pátzcuaro which surrounds the island, and soon the tolling of church bells begins. At this point, it is believed that the souls return to cemeteries everywhere. People bring them offerings of flowers, lights and foods such as bread, candy, fruit, etc. to the graves. Altars are set up on the graves, and everyone prays by candlelight. All night long the bells continue to toll calling for the dead to return for the ceremony. Throughout the island, people use candles, songs and music to plead for their absent souls' rest.