The Day of the Dead, also known as La Dia de Los Muertos, was declared by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Mexico. It is one of the most family-centric celebrations in Sayulita, celebrated in both private and public gatherings in memory of those who have passed on. It is a unique holiday with its roots deeply embedded in the indigenous cultures of the south and the central parts of the country, while in the north, the celebration never meant much until the early 1960s when the government decided to declare it a holiday and a celebration to unify the entire country. Currently, the official day of the celebration is the 2nd of November.
The Origin of the Celebrations
The Day of the Dead is a deep cultural tradition in the country whose origins are fascinating. It is believed that the celebration stemmed from the belief that on the midnight of October 13th of every year, the gates of heaven usually open to allow the souls of departed children known as Los Angelitos, to unite with their families once more for 24 hours. It is a tradition that has been in place for the last three thousand years, where it is believed that even the famous Aztec Empire observed it as a way of honoring their departed loved ones – a celebration believed to have lasted for nearly one whole month. Following the Spanish conquest, however, the celebration dates moved from November 1st to November 2nd so that it can coincide with All Saints and All Souls Day of the Roman Catholic.
How the Day of the Dead is Celebrated in Sayulita
Being such an important tradition among the Mexicans, the celebrations for the Day of the Dead in Sayulita is very elaborate and is something that nearly everyone joins in depending on where they are on the day of the celebrations. For visitors and tourists, this is a day to come out of their Sayulita vacation rentals and interact with the locals and gain more insight about the celebrations. The good news is that Mexicans are very accommodating when it comes to the celebration and they will not hesitate to let visitors join them.
On the actual day, and for many families, a section of the house will be cleaned and set aside for the erection of an altar that will be the focal point of the celebrations. Once the altar is constructed, it will be decorated by a myriad of traditional and religious paraphernalia, with the most notable ones being photos of the departed, white marigold, candles, cross, and statues of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Traditionally, three items must be left in the altar area – a razor, wash basin and soap. This is so that the spirits can find a way of cleaning themselves after making such a tiring and long journey back to earth. There are also numerous sugar skulls among the décor and these are usually placed on the shrine to represent the souls of the departed. Families will then gather around the altar to pray, tell stories with beautiful memories of the dead, and to give their offerings.
On the second of November, all the family members will make trips to the cemeteries where the tombs of their departed members are. At the cemetery, they will clean the tombs and graves, and then decorate them with candles and marigold flowers. During the day, they will also spread blankets over the tombs and graves, and then share meals that their departed family members loved.
About Pan de Muerto
Since different family members who are already departed might have liked different foods, the Day of the Dead usually features the incredible culinary diversity in Mexico. For tourists who are considerate enough to leave their Sayulita vacation rentals and join the locals in the celebrations, the diversity of what they would normally encounter is unexplainable. However, of all the food prepared for the day, Pan de Muerto shouldn’t be missed. It is a special type of sweet egg bread whose top is decorated with dough rolled to resemble bones. This bread is eaten at home and the cemetery picnic as a way of celebrating the lives of the dead. If you are traveling to Mexico and you wish to indulge deep into their culture and traditions, then this is one celebration that you must be sure to attend.