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About Day of the Dead

The meaning of the Day of the Dead celebration is the conception of a new life further on, and life as a duality with death. Death means a step to a new life that never ends.

The Indigenous Tradition

The ritual to the death in the pre-Hispanic communities is the conception of a new life with the Gods, Ometecuhtli and Omecíhuatl. It was important to place all the necessary items needed for the new life, presided over by Mictlantechuhtli and Mictecacíhuatl, Gods that lived in the Mictlán: a place of death.

Before removing a corpse from the house, community members used to place food and flowers to the deceased. After exhuming, they would honor the deceased for four days, placing offerings twice a day.

The Existence Life-Death

The existence beyond said, was in agreement with the form of their death, not with the behavior observed in life. Therefore, the person was not afraid of punishments after death. Hell did not exist as a torment site nor the sin to fear God.


The old ones used to dress the dead in papers amate or maguey, spilling water on their head saying "this is what you enjoyed in life". If their death was related of some form to water,  the old ones dressed the deceased as Tláloc, God of rain. A jar of water was placed aside, helping them overcome the obstacles until arriving at their destination.


If the deceased was a high-level community member,  a green stone called Chalchihuitl was placed in their mouth. In the case of a common civilian, a stone of less value was placed. They incinerated the corpse, the fire of the cremation was stoked at the same time that dismal songs were intoned, reduced the body to ashes was deposited in a mud pot and they buried it. Also, they burned the deceased properties and instruments of work. The burial was taken place in the house, a temple or mount. Offerings of food, drinks, and flowers were placed.

“Altars are extremely personal, very sacred” 

- Marguerita Ravella

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The Death Like a Duality with Life


In Mexico, in the time of the preclassic culture, (2.000 years A.C.), the teotihuacanos, toltecas, Aztecs, huaxtecos, totonacas, otomíes, puréchas, mixtecos, zapotecos, Mayan, and all indigenous communities, practiced the cult to the death and their rites were similar.

They conceived death as a duality with life. We can appreciate it in diverse sculptures that exist at the present time, like skulls with emaciated half found in the city of Mexico and Oaxaca, even figures one incarnated and another skeletal one in the Huasteca. Representations of the single death and of the deities of the same one in all the archaeological zones.

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