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Day of the Dead, Mixquic
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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On the Zócalo in Mexico City, huge tents are set up to welcome all the delegations of the region, which come to make offerings in the capital.

The orange flowers, called Cempasúchil or Cempaxóchitl are among every decoration.
bed of Cempasúchil
November 1st and 2nd are the busy Holidays. There is a lot of music and some have themselves purified by the Náhuatl Indians with Copal incense.

     Left picture : bed of Cempasúchil

There are free music and artistic manifestations on a podium, with quality spectacles like the Folk Ballet of Mexico to Amalia Hernandez and bands. People are dressed in skeleton or Halloween costumes. The two holidays mix together a little bit. This manifestation on the Zócalo has been held every year for three years, in order to keep the traditions. The offerings are real passing art works. The offerings of the Zócalo are reproductions of the offerings that the Mexican set up in their houses. This includes an altar with the picture of the dead and a whole collection of flowers and food, especially the preferred dishes of the dead when he was alive. When the holiday ends, the whole family enjoys the feast. On the Zócalo, there are also bakers making the “pan de muerto”. We bought one and shared it with the hotel staff. There are also many small booths where you can buy sugar skulls or skeletons as gifts.

In the San Francisco church yard, on Madero Street, there is a décor specific to the Day of the Dead : a cross covered with orange flowers and pasteboard pilgrims, dressed in real monk or nun suits. The pilgrims seem to be praying in front of this cross.

convent in Huaquechula In Huaquechula convent, looking at offerings on the altar, we are told that you go shopping on October 31st and at noon, you would set up the offerings for the children deceased during the past year. On November 1st, you would set up the offerings for the adults and on November 2nd, you would visit the graves, clean them and decorate them with flowers and candles.
There are three kinds of offerings : one dedicated only to the soul, another one to the “old” dead, these two offerings being minor offerings, and the third one, the most important one, dedicated. The decorated altar is 3 m high and 3 to 5 m wide.

     Right picture : convent in Huaquechula


cemetery Mixquic
In some hotels of Mexico City, you could find a “tour “ to go to Mixquic, which is one of the places where the Day of Dead assumes a specific interest.

Left picture: cemetery of Mixquic

After more than two hours driving from the Historic center of Mexico City, through narrow roads, we arrive in a small village crowded with people. We have to park the car. The driver bargains and finds a place in someone’s garden.
From there, starts a hallucinating spectacle. We cross the village walking. The village is transformed into a huge fair with all kind of food and drink booths. It is a cacophony ! People swarm about from everywhere !
We arrive to the lighted church and its cemetery. We stop in front of a guard who checks that we aren’t carrying any food or drink. It is not allowed anymore because once some people were drunk and impaired the graves decorations. So the graves are decorated only with flowers and candles (they set up the food offerings on an altar at home). As soon as we enter the cemetery, it is magic ! People are in a single line and even if they are talking, there is a feeling of silence, serenity. It is an unbelievable contrast with the party atmosphere on the other side of the gate. The graves are weighted down the flowers, candles and … people.

People march among the graves in a relative order and calmness. Families sit on the grave to spend the evening with their departed.
Beautiful decoration of a grave in Mixquic during the Day of the Dead A man discreetly cries on another grave. The floral decorations are in themselves an ART. The orange color offers an atmosphere of serenity, calmness and well being. We linger also close to the garden and the statues of the personages of the bones legend in the small archeological site adjoining the church. Then, we plunge back in the light, noise, odors and crowd. We stop at a booth where the driver buys a non-alcoholic punch made from fresh herbs, in order to warm us up.

     Right picture: Beautiful decoration of a grave in Mixquic during the      Day of the Dead

The party goes on the whole night : after remembering the dead, they celebrate the joy of being still alive.
In Mixquic, you could also ride “ tajineras” through the canals like in Xochimilco.



In conclusion, Mixquic is a magic place. It is a unique experience but you can’t go by yourself. There are no signs and when the driver asked our destination, he was given indications, meaning something for him, because he knew the region.
Cemetery and Church in Mixquic

You have to go there on November 2nd and ask to leave Mexico City around 9:00PM (evening). The cemetery closed just after our visit (around 3:00AM).

Left picture : Cemetery and Church in Mixquic

Two weeks before the Day of the Dead, there is already an out of the ordinary atmosphere. In the markets, people are buying French marigolds called flowers of « cempasuchitl » a symbol of this fiesta, ingredients for the indispensable dishes for the offerings and ornamentation for the graves.


The Day of the Dead, on November 1st and 2nd, is a traditional Holiday that celebrates more the death of those in your close neighborhood than the loss of loved ones. The dead are celebrated with noise, food, crackers, alcohol, wreaths, popular songs (corridos) and a lot of tears in order to let the deceased know that they are not forgotten and they were not alone during their lifetime. In each house, the family prepares the altar of the dead, adorned with lighted candles, full of presentations, offerings, personal objects, skulls with the name of the deceased on them and food. In the main room, on a table covered with an embroidered tablecloth or a cut out paper, the portraits of the deceased are placed.

It is on November 1st that the alive take care of the dead. It is the Vigil of the Little Angels (Velacion de los Angelitos). People spend the day cleaning, pulling away the weeds, repainting the crosses, and arranging the orange or bloody red flowers. At sunset, everything is ready; the cemetery shines, all the graves are covered with petals of cempazuchitl. On every grave, a candle and dozens of night-lights define the family space; in the middle or at each corner, a varnished black bowl is reserved for copal, the Mexican incense. The cemetery is full to bursting point. People climb on graves, apologizing and patting a widow’s shoulder. A supernatural gleam shrouds the picture. People are all dressed up. The Indians with their traditional shawls in contrast with the teenagers with their fashionable clothes (mini skirts or pants) and make up, who look bored in such a traditional place. At dawn, the priest of the village, followed by a chorus of virgins gives his blessing to every deceased. The rooster crows. The families scatter.











      Dia de Muertos en Mexico - comments in spanish

To inform visitors, there is sometimes a text about the deceased that reminds visitors of the titles, the acts of glory and the specific tastes of the deceased. On the table, the family of the deceased carefully organize the traditional French marigolds, the sugar skulls (the skulls symbolize both death and rebirth), the bottles of tequila, some corn ears, fruit, rosemary soup, avocados, in short everything to awake the hungry dead. A trail of petals goes from the altar to the street through the whole room. It will guide the souls from the cemetery to the family house.

      Below pictures: prayers on the graves during the day of the Dead in Mixquic

prayers on the graves during the day of the Dead in Mixquic




prayers on the graves during the day of the Dead in Mixquic





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