Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Beautiful orange and magenta flowers, sweet fluffy bread, candles, mandarin oranges, sugar skulls, sometimes tequila, mezcal, or beer, photos, a glass of water, family and friends. Everything you will need after your long journey back to this world on Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Dia de Muertos is a three day Mexican tradition (Oct 31-Nov 2) that celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed. It is a time to remember them, tell stories, and also welcome them back to this world to spend time with family and friends. The tradition centers around the creation of beautifully decorated altars that include the items listed above as well as “offerings” of the deceased’s favorite food or other things. Some altars are set up in cemeteries, some in the home. Some communities throw large festivals with food, music, parades, dance, and theatre.

We were lucky to observe this beautiful tradition in Zipolite, Oaxaca in a variety of ways- creating a small altar in our own home, attending a family celebration at the home of Lindsey and Edgar, and also at the community festival.

It is truly a wonderful and thought provoking tradition that encouraged us to not only think about our loved ones who have passed, but also about our own mortality and relationship with death. Sorry if that sounds a bit dark for a travel blog…but we’ve had a whole lot of time to think about a whole lot of crazy things! This is Carolyn speaking – I admit that on this trip, there are moments when I think about and fear death. I think about it when I see a huge wave coming at me in the ocean. I think about it when we step onto a bus that is headed into the mountains. And I think about it when people tell us “[insert country of choice here] is dangerous and you should be careful”. After my adrenaline cools down, I ask myself: is this fear founded in reality? Or am I just afraid of something unknown or new? And that’s when Jon saves me and provides some perspective. After all, World Tour is all about having new experiences, expanding our comfort zone, and living as much as we possibly can. (While of course paying attention to travel warnings, following standard safety precautions, and using common sense). So this Dia de Muertos, we realized that celebrating death is also celebrating life- the lives of our loved ones who have passed, the lives of those around us who live on, and celebrating every precious moment of our own lives.