Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is the most time-honored and expressive holiday of Oaxaca. It is an example of the harmonious relationship between Christianity and the pre-hispanic traditions found in the state of Oaxaca.
Although Día de los Muertos is recognized all over Mexico, Oaxaca has become known for it’s ornately rich celebrations venerating the return of their deceased loved ones on November 1st and 2nd.
Visit a Cemetery
During this time the living join together to rejoice the return of their ancestors. Visiting cemeteries enables one to enjoy the richness of this celebration. The energy of the occasion is awesome.
Cemeteries to visit in Oaxaca during this time
- October 31 visit the cemetery of Xoxocotlan
- November 1st visit the Panteón General in Oaxaca
- November 2nd visit the Cemetery of San Felipe del Agua
All of Oaxaca’s Markets are operating full on in the days prior to the Muertos holiday. They provide the decorations for the altar including the candy skulls, skeletons and ceramic figures.
Markets to visit in Oaxaca during Dia de los Muertos
- Saturday – Mercado de Abastos
- Sunday – Tlacolula La Merced – City of Tlacolula
- Monday – Miahuatlán – City of Miahuatlan de Porfirio Díaz
- Tuesday – Atzompa
- Wednesday – Zimatlan, Etla
- Thursday – Zaachila
- Friday – Ocotlán, Atzompa
For more information about markets visit http://oaxaca.wikispaces.com/markets
Participate in a Comparsa
In addition to visiting homes and cemeteries, one may experience the cultural richness of this time by getting involved in the Comparsas, theatrical performances representing the return of the dead, which take place in various outlying villages.
- There are plenty of Comparsas in the city of Oaxaca one of them is held by the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca A Spanish Language School in which students who enroll for the day of the dead program after a mask making workshop participate in a comparsa organized by the school
- Another way to participate in Comparsas is by going to one of the many villages of the Valley of Etla. During November 2nd the Valley of Etla is witness of multiple comparsa organized by the different neightborhoods of the villages in this valley. You can find the most creative designs in this villages.
Enjoy the altars
The Oaxacan altars are most commonly built on October 30th and October 31st in the homes of the Oaxacan people. The altar is generally set on a table, and then it is wrapped with a tablecloth, white sheet or with perforated tissue paper. Sugarcane is bound to the foot of the table and run high over overhead into the shape of a triumphal arch. On the morning of October 31st the offerings are placed on the altars; these offerings consist of exquisite dishes that the relatives will come to savour the aromas of.
Eat Mole Negro
Oaxaca is considered one of the top gastronomic destinations in Mexico and its rich indigenous heritaged blended with a Spanish Influence of more than 300 years is displayed in its flavorful cuisine. In Oaxaca it is possible to find many the regions of Oaxaca and Puebla it is possible to find a vast array of Moles, but it is only in Oaxaca where you can eat the king of moles, the Mole Negro, and during Dia de los Muerts families and restaurants prepare this delicacy to welcome guest both alive and dead who are expected for visit this time of the year
During this time of the year there are many restaurants where you can taste the deliciousness of Mole Negro!
Visit the artisan Villages
One of the ways you can get more about this cultural experience is by visiting the outlying villages of Oaxaca where you can find crafts and folk art. During this time of the year artisans set up the altars of their families and it is possible to witness first hand how a Oaxacan Family welcomes their loved ones who are visiting in this special ocassion
Villages to visit
- Arrazola & Tilcajete – Famous for its alebrijes (wooden animal carvigns)
- San Bartolo Coyotepec – Famous for its black pottery
- Teotitlan del Valle – known for its beatiful rugs (it is possible to get an cultural insight of the community with Fundación En Vía)
- Atzompa – Green pottery
- Jalietza – Cotton Textiles
There are many ways in which you can enjoy the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca either by Learning Spanish during this season, volunteering or just by Visiting if you want get the cultural richness of this season MOCadventures offers a unique experience carefully designed to offer you a blend of culture, gastronomy and art.