Day of the Dead

img_0949-scaled1000In Oaxaca, the Guelaguetza Festival and all the fairs have come to an end for this year.  We have had a summer full of color, music, art and food. It is such an amazing time of year.

But coming up next in Oaxaca is the Day of the Dead!  At the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, we will have the “Day of the Dead Course 2016”.   We are going to have a lot of special activities and celebrations, please, read on for further details.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st and 2nd is an example of the relationship between Christianity and pre-historic traditions and is one of the most colorful and most time-honored holidays in Mexico. Although Dia de los Muertos is nationally recognized, Oaxaca has become known for its traditionally rich celebrations to honor the return of their dead.

Preparations for the Day of the Dead begin at least a week before the festival. It is believed that on the last day of October the souls of children who have passed away come to visit the altars. November 2nd is reserved for adults. It is an old belief that the dead, after their long pilgrimage from the other life, arrive on earth tired and thirsty. To nourish these souls, offerings of candles, flowers and traditional Oaxacan food is placed on the altars.

Altar de muertos del Instituto Cultural Oaxaca

Las señales que guían a nuestros difuntos.

In villages outside the city of Oaxaca, the celebration of Muertos is most commonly known as Todos Santos, or All Saints. This day is often the most celebrated day of the year. Altars, both in homes and cemeteries are honored by all. In local cemeteries you will find the graves wonderfully decorated with candles, flowers and food. During this time the living join together to rejoice the return of their ancestors. During the afternoon of November 1st many Comparsas (parades) take place, which represent and celebrate the return of the dead. Experiencing these parades and visiting cemeteries and homes enables you to enjoy the richness of this celebration and experience for yourself, the cultural importance of the festivals.

You will find that there is much to see and do in the city of Oaxaca and in the surrounding villages during the celebrations. For this reason, we offer you the opportunity to partake in a number of different tours to villages, but also encourage you to stay in the city and absorb the atmosphere. This freedom enables you to immerse yourself in the celebrations and also discover on your own the wonders this culturally rich time in Oaxaca presents.

Our Day of the Dead – Main Program, beginning on Monday, October 24th to Friday, November 4th, includes the following: 

Grammar and activity based classes from 9am – 12pm.

Instructor guided conversation classes from 12pm – 1pm.

Intercambio (a language exchange with someone from the community) in the afternoon. 

Cultural workshops from 4pm – 6pm; the workshops we offer during the Day of the Dead are seasonal and we do not offer our regular workshops during this program. You will be able to choose from a traditional mask making workshop, or a specialized Day of the Dead cooking class. 

We also host a private comparsa (parade), on Tuesday 1st, with our students, which includes a live band, mezcal, hot chocolate, and special Day of the Dead bread.

Additionally, we offer 3 tours to a number of cemeteries and celebrations in the city during the weekend of October 30th; to give students the opportunity to experience in person the number of ways that various populations in Oaxaca celebrate the Day of the Dead. 

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