Day of the Dead
Wax figurines © Scott Clark
A Mexican tradition with Aztec roots is the honouring of the departed with traditions that nowadays closely resemble those of Halloween celebrated to the north. The main function of the holiday is to celebrate the memory of the departed with prayers, parties and visits to graves. In most regions of Mexico November 1st is celebrated in honour of lost children and infants, whereas November 2nd is in honour of dead adults; for this reason the first day is actually called Dia de los Inocentes, or Day of the Innocents. The Mexican celebrations coincide, aptly, with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.
In Mexico City markets and stores are liberally stocked with flowers, candy skulls, paper skeletons and candles. Processions are made to cemeteries, where vigils or even parties are held and the favourite foods and possessions of dead relatives are often left at their graves. Visitors to Mexico City who want to make the most of the celebration should head for Mixquic, a mountain pueblo south of the city, which hosts an elaborate street fair and solemn processions to the town cemetery. Travellers should note that although the Day of the Dead looks similar to Halloween, and does often involve parties and happy celebrations, it is essentially a sombre holiday which has deep meaning for participants and shouldn't be taken lightly by foreigners.
Date: 1 - 2 November annually