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Although Dia de los Muertos festivities in Mexican cities such as Oaxaca City and Patzcuaro deservedly get lots of attention, it’s also possible to take part in authentic ceremonies for Day of the Dead in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca and other beach destinations.
The most important dates to keep in mind are November 1st for Día de los Inocentes and November 2nd for Día de los Muertos, although Day of the Dead preparations do begin as early as mid-October.
Here are some of the main Day of the Dead traditions in Puerto Escondido and suggestions on ways you can participate in this unique and memorable cultural tradition.
1. Day of the Dead Altars
Although you won’t see Day of the Dead recognized to the same extent in Puerto Escondido as in other places in Mexico, you will be able to notice many Dia de Muertos elements around town.
One of the most colourful sights to see during the weeks leading up to Day of the Dead are baskets of cempasúchil flowers also known as the Mexican marigold or Aztec marigold or flor de muertos (flower of the dead).
These brilliant orange flowers are an important component of the altars known as ofrendas built in private homes and cemeteries. Much like in other beach destinations such as Cancun and Riviera Maya, many of the hotels, BnB’s and apartments in Puerto Escondido will create altars in their lobby or on an outdoor terrace.
Decorated with marigolds, food, candles, skulls, photos of the deceased and other symbolic elements, these altars are constructed to help guide and welcome the spirits of departed loved ones back to the realm of the living on the noche de muertos or night of November 2nd.
Check out the Top 10 Amazing Traditions in Mexico on Day of the Dead to learn more about how to decorate a home altar and the symbolism behind elements such as flowers, food offerings, candles and construction of the altars.
2. Shop for Sugar Skulls and Day of the Dead Food
If you’re planning to build your own altar or contribute to one at a friend’s home, you can shop for calaveras, the popular sugar skull candies made of marzipan and decorated in bright colours, in the Benito Juarez market as well as in the shops and stalls surrounding the market area.
Beginning in mid to late October, you can find pan de muerto, an anise-scented sweet Day of the Dead bread available for sale in stands set up in and around Mercado Benito Juárez and Parque Idilio.
As the dates of November 1st and 2nd approach, you’ll also see this popular Day of the Dead bread available in supermarkets and from the back of pick-up trucks. Pan de Muerto is most often enjoyed with a steaming mug of hot Oaxacan chocolate, pulque (a fermented agave drink) or atole ( a thick warm beverage made of maize).
Other popular foods for Day of the Dead include pozole a pork and hominy stew that comes in regional variations of green, red and white. One of the most popular places for pozole in Puerto Escondido is Las Cazuelas on Calle Hidalgo.
Plan your own Day of the Dead celebration with our special collection of 25 Day of the Dead Food and Drink Recipes.
3. Decorate with Papel Picado paper banners
You’ll often see papel picado (pierced paper banners created by cutting out decorative patterns of birds, flowers and geometric shapes) blowing in the breeze above the streets of Puerto Escondido.
Papel picado (most often made of plastic rather than paper) is regularly displayed within the pedestrian zone and night market on the Adoquin in Puerto Escondido, but you’ll see even more papel picado around Day of the Dead.
4. Face-Painting and Day of the Dead Nightclub Partying
A modern way to celebrate Día de los Muertos, is hitting one of the nightclubs or beach clubs for a themed Day of the Dead party of music, food and dance. To really get in the spirit, apply some skull face paint and dress like La Catrina, the iconic skeleton in a hat, created by artist José Guadalupe Posada in the early 1900s.
Most of the most popular nightclubs for themed events and parties any time of the year are located around Zicatela Beach. Live music, DJs, dance parties, VIP events, Ladies Nights, you’ll find it all in Puerto Escondido.
Top spots to celebrate Day of the Dead in Puerto Escondido include restaurants and clubs such as Casa Babylon, Barfly, Sativa Terraza, and Kabbalah and Foro Atemoztli in Puerto’s party zone. Check their respective Facebook pages for the most up to date information on events and hours.
5. Visit a Cemetery on Day of the Dead in Puerto Escondido
If you’re in Puerto Escondido for November 2nd, it’s worthwhile to join culture-guru Gina Machorro on her guided Day of the Dead Tour. This walking tour also features ceremonies to remember the lives of Puerto Escondido residents who have passed away.
During the walking tour, Gina will explain the history and origins of Dia de Los Muertos. She’ll also talk about the symbolism of flowers such as marigolds and important annual rituals such as cleaning the gravestones to welcome the return of the spirits of the departed and more.
Cost for the Day of the Dead Tour in Puerto Escondido: $500 MXN pesos for adult and $250 pesos for kids.
Date: November 2, 2019
How to Make a Reservation: Make a reservation in advance at the Tourist booth on the Adoquin.
Note: Wear comfortable shoes, bring water and cash to purchase cempasuchil flowers and candles in the market. You’ll enjoy tamales, bread and chocolate during the tour.
That’s not the end of our travel tips and things to do in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico! Read our Puerto Escondido Travel Guide for more information on hotels, things to do, day trips and more in Puerto Escondido.
Another option is to take the bus to Guatemala and experience their Giant Kite Festival for Day of the Dead.
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