Dia De Los Muertos – What’s it about?


While Mexico City celebrates its first “Dia de los Muertos” parade in 2016, Australia embraced the ancient celebration some time ago, honouring the traditions of Mexico’s day of the dead, where guests dress up in costume and don elaborate face paintings, honouring loved ones who have passed.

The tradition dates back thousands of years and was celebrated by indigenous cultures in Mexico.  Taking place over two days, November 1 and November 2, the tradition has often been mistaken with Halloween.  Unlike Halloween, which is a pagan tradition, Dia de Los Muertos is a combination of Catholicism and Aztec and Hispanic cultures.  And most importantly, the major distinction between the pagan tradition and the Mexican tradition is that the first 2 days of November are about celebrating the lives of those gone before us.  The celebrations on November 1 focus on the children that have passed, whilst November 2 is all about the adults that have left this world.

Just like Halloween, the Mexican celebration known as the Day of the Dead is growing in popularity in Australia. In Mexican homes, the norm is for shrines to be created where photos of lost loved ones are positioned next to candles and marigold flowers.  Offering plentiful food and playing live music is also key to the celebration, whilst many people also head to cemeteries to pay their respects.

As morbid as the name sounds, Day of the Dead is actually a joyful time because its believed to be a time when we can feel our loved ones, even though we cannot see them. As long as this is the case, Australians will continue to embrace the tradition with open arms.