October 28, 2021
November is almost here, and with it, a time where colorful altars are seen all over Mexico to honor the dead, as well as calaveras (Day of the Dead sugar skulls) in their homes or in public places such as restaurants, or even complex and beautiful designs painted in people’s faces turning them into elegant catrinas and catrines.
The Catrina, an icon of the Mexican Day of the Dead, can be seen almost everywhere during this celebration, colorful and modern, with lots of cempasuchil flowers (marigold) or colorful bows, dressed in long lace or traditional Mexican dresses. Lots of different designs! She became famous and the icon of this festivity since the 1940s, although she was first drawn in 1910.
And well, we all know a good festivity is usually accompanied by an amazing culinary feast, so during Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico, Day of the Dead bread or pan de muerto is always present. Nowadays, you can find different kinds, but its decoration is the same all over the country: round as a full moon, with a little bump at the top resembling a skull or heart, and its round shape representing the cycle of life and death.
When it’s baked it turns slightly brown and it’s sprinkled with sugar, and decorated with four strips of dough that represent human bones of arms and legs. It is also said that they represent the four cardinal directions. Interesting, right? It is also said that using orange blossom evokes the dead, guided by the aroma of food and flowers, they arrive at the altar where they are remembered.
It is believed that this bread was first made by bakers in the time of the Spanish Conquest in Mexico (1519). Its essence remains the same, and you certainly see it in every Mexican altar, and most Mexicans enjoy during the days they honor their dead (November 1st and 2nd).
This festivity, known as “Mexican Day of the Dead” was recognized by UNESCO as an “Intangible Heritage of Humanity” on November 7th, 2003, and we’re so proud of it as Mexicans!
Here in Puerto Vallarta, we like to celebrate this festivity with joy and life, welcoming our departed ones. When you stroll along the Malecon during this time, you will find giant and glamorous Catrinas in this open-air gallery, along with altars mainly in the area close to the main square, where schools, restaurants, and locals spark their creativity with unique and traditional decorations to welcome their beloved. Altars must include the deceased's favorite foods and usually a picture of them, along with the four elements of nature: water, air, fire, and earth, and it consists of three levels.
Street parties are organized all over town during these days, offering traditional Mexican food such as tamales and pan de muerto of course! Many venues hold special celebrations during this time for both locals and visitors, such as the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, which this year is hosting a Noche de Muertos with the Inauguration of an Art Exhibition. Take a look at our list of events for more related celebrations.
Some people visit their deceased at the cemetery where they were buried. Some visit during the day and others spend the night to accompany them, lighting candles and decorating their grave with cempasuchil flowers. This is done all over the country, and in Puerto Vallarta the local cemetery is filled with joy during this night.
As we mentioned before, this celebration takes place during November 1st and 2nd, but the activities and celebration usually starts at least a week before that. So, if you’ll be in Puerto Vallarta during these dates, make sure to be a part of it. we’re sure you’re going to love it!
Let us know on our social media, have you ever celebrated the Day of the Dead in Puerto Vallarta?
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