It’s that time of year again, which means it’s time for one of the MexiCrate family’s favorite holidays. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a time to celebrate with family and honor our ancestors gone by. However, anyone who grew up in Mexico or in a Mexican family knows that this is not a somber occasion — it’s a time for joy and celebration, and most importantly, FOOD!
This year, we’ve picked out ten of our team’s favorite ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. Wherever you are for the holiday this year, we hope you find time to think about your loved ones and honor your culture.
Here are 10 ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos around the world!
- Honor your loved ones. At its heart, the Day of the Dead is about family. On Dia de los Muertos, we think about our departed loved ones and the ancestors who got us where we are today. Whether that means saying prayers on behalf of family members or simply taking time to be grateful for the people in your life, honoring your loved ones is the best way to celebrate the Day of the Dead.
- Make a batch of pan dulce. When we were kids, one of our absolute favorite parts of the holiday was the sweet desserts. Pan dulce, known during the holiday as “Bread of the Dead” (or Pan de Muerto) is a sweet bread topped with a citrus glaze, usually made from oranges and sugar. What a lot of Mexican families like about pan de muerto is that it’s easy to make, meaning kids and cousins can be a part of the tradition too!
- Hang papel picado around your home. The colorful banners are a familiar part of Dia de los Muertos celebrations, made from bright tissue paper with unique designs cut in. This is another good activity for children, because you can make your own papel picado with just a few supplies: tissue paper, safety scissors, and string. Once they’re done, they make a beautiful and authentic addition to any Day of the Dead decorations!
- Build an ofrenda and decorate it with family favorites. One of the central traditions of Dia de los Muertos is the ofrenda: an altar decorated with pictures of family members who have passed on. The altar is usually laid with a beautiful, colorful tablecloth, then arranged to include our loved ones’ favorite treats and decorations. There are four “elements” in an ofrenda: earth is represented by food, water is — you guessed it — a glass or bowl of water, fire with lit candles, and wind (or air) is represented by the papel picado. Other traditional decorations, like marigolds and sugar skulls, make up a finished ofrenda.
- Visit family graves or important places. Many families in Mexico have dedicated sections of graveyards or family tombs that we visit on Dia de los Muertos. We decorate our loved ones’ graves and tombs the same way we decorate our ofrendas. The smell of marigolds, incense, and candles is a major memory we associate with the Day of the Dead!
- Get your kids into the celebrations. We’ve mentioned some kid-friendly Day of the Dead activities, like making papel picado and baking pan muerto. Dia de los Muertos is also an excellent time to introduce children to Mexican culture, or the culture of your ancestors. Taking time to educate kids on Day of the Dead traditions, what the holiday means, and why we celebrate it, is a great way to bring families closer on Dia de los Muertos.
- Attend a neighborhood Dia de los Muertos event. We have SO many amazing memories from local Day of the Dead parties. Parades, performances, and street markets are common during the festivities. Look up Dia de los Muertos events near you and celebrate this time with your neighbors and friends!
- Try on traditional dress and masks. The Day of the Dead is all about color, color, color. Bright, patterned papel picado, elaborately designed sugar skulls, and the brilliant colors of marigolds can be found all around. If you’re hosting your own family or neighborhood celebration, encourage people to dress up in traditional Dia de los Muertos costumes: embroidered dresses, floral headpieces, hand-painted sugar skull masks, and more!
- Gather family for a festive feast. One thing you’ll ALWAYS find at a Day of the Dead party is food. Food is a HUGE part of Mexican culture, especially during the holidays. From our classic staple dishes to our unique candy, Mexican food has something unique and delicious to offer everyone. Cook up a family meal of tamales, tortilla soup, enchiladas, and more — or at the very least, treat yourself to your favorite Mexican candies, like chamoy candies, sour paletas, and sweet mazapan.
- Think about what Dia de los Muertos means to you. Finally, it’s important to remember what this holiday is all about. The Day of the Dead isn’t simply “Mexican Halloween” or something that should be used as a party theme. It’s a time of great cultural significance, often filled with religious meaning and deep connection to family. No matter how you celebrate Dia de los Muertos, one part of it should include thinking about the holiday itself: expressing gratitude for your family, honor for your ancestors, and hopes for the future.
Whether you have your own tried and true holiday traditions or this is your first Dia de los Muertos celebration since childhood, we hope you have a safe and festive holiday. The team at MexiCrate holds Dia de los Muertos close to our hearts, and look forward to spending this time with family.
For all your candy needs, check out our full dulceria for your favorite sweets, savory treats, and more. Or, if you’re not sure where to get started, try one of our subscription boxes! Each month, we offer a creative theme for our variety boxes, stuffed with holiday favorites and more. This month’s Dia de los Muertos box is packed with creative, tantalizing treats, so make sure you grab one before they’re gone!