El Día de los Muertos begins today and celebrations last through Friday, November 2! The Mexican festival may be celebrated on the exact day as Halloween, but the holidays share few similarities. Join the festivities, and read on to learn more about this 3,000-year-old tradition!
Altar Decorations are called ‘Ofrendas’
Each home has an altar to honor their late relatives, and they are decorated with fruits, candles, food, and more known as ofrendas. Ofrendas serve as offerings for the deceased, and they can range from colorful flowers to bottles of mezcal. Intricate sugar skulls and painted calacas (skeletons) are among the most globally recognized of ofrendas.
The Dead Have a Mighty Hunger
The traditional belief in Mexico dictates that the deceased work up an insatiable appetite while traveling from the spirit world back to the realm of the living. One common dish offered during The Day of the Dead includes Pan de Muerto, sweet bread with bones and skulls complete with tiny teardrops made of dough. Popular beverages include hot chocolate, cinnamon porridge, and a fermented cocktail made from agave sap!
The Gates of Heaven Open
At midnight on October 31, the gates of heaven open and the spirits of the deceased children are allowed 24 hours back on Earth with their families. These spirits are known as angelitos, and November 1 is known as El Día de los Angelitos. Families who have lost children place sweets and toys on their altars as ofrendas for their brief return.
Celebrations End at the Cemeteries
On the last day of the festival, the celebrations are taken to the cemeteries. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not a spooky tradition but rather a thoughtful opportunity for loved ones to reminisce about the deceased. The families spend the day cleaning the tombs, playing cards, listening to music, and sharing stories to honor the dead.
Travel the World with AESU!
El Día de los Muertos is well-known in the Central and South regions of Mexico, but people of Mexican heritage celebrate the festival throughout the world!
AESU offers unique, thrilling travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group.
2019 tour dates and prices are now available! If you have any questions or want help booking your European adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640, or fill out the contact form found on our website!