The Day of the Dead, is a celebration that represents the unity between life and death.  It emphasizes death as part of the cycle of life and was borne from the merging of the Catholic feast of All Soul’s Day (a day to remember the dead with prayer) and with Indian rituals of death.

The celebration of Día de Muertos (Hanal Pixán in Mayan language) coincides with indigenous celebrations and the catholic celebrations of All Saints Day (Nov 1st) and All Souls Day (Nov 2nd ).  On October 31st relatives clean and decorate the altars (at the Grave Site) in anticipation of the honoured guests: deceased family’s souls.  This festivity mark a very special occasion when the living have an opportunity to show respect for their departed loved ones, whose spirits are expected to return to their homes.

Families also decorate an altar at the house.  With the deceased's photograph, favourite food, alcoholic beverage, cigarettes, chocolate and other goods. For  deceased children, simple toys are included so the child's spirit has fun while he/she visits the family.



The beginning of the Christmas festivities is marked with Las Posadas, nine consecutive days of  candlelight processions and lively parties starting December 16th.

Families gather to re-enact the holy family’s quest for lodging in Bethlehem. The procession is headed by a small plaster Virgin Mary and San José.  They are followed by other children portraying angels, the Three kings and pastores (shepherds).  The breaking of a piñata is a rigorous part of this celebration.



Noche Buena is the culmination of the Holiday festivities with the celebration of a midnight mass (Misa de Gallo).  Afterwards, families head home for a traditional Christmas supper, which may feature  regional dishes.  Depending on the economic status of the family, the feast might include bacalao a la vizcaína (Biscayan cod) and romeritos (wild greens in mole sauce).  Roast turkey, ham or suckling pig are other popular menu items.  The evening is rounded out with the opening of gifts and for the children, piñatas and luces de Belén (sparklers).  These happy family gatherings generally last until dusk and for this reason December 25th is set aside as a day to rest and enjoy leftovers.



Epiphany, which is called Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day) portrays the arrival in Bethlehem of the Wise Men carying gifts for the baby Jesus.  Children all over Mexico, anxiously await waking up January 6th to find toys and gifts. 

A special treat served on this day is the Rosca de Reyes (a crown-shaped sweet bread decorated with jewel-like candied fruits)  Tiny plastic figures of babies are hidden in the dough before baking.  There is much excitement as each partaker cuts his or her own slice, for whoever gets a piece containing a baby is obligated to host another party on or before Candlemas, February 2, when Mexico’s holiday season finally comes to an end.



Semana Santa is Mexico's second most important holiday season of the year, behind only Christmas, and runs from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. In addition to attending Mass on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, many Mexicans will also take advantage of the holiday to go on vacation. If you're planning to visit Mexico during Semana Santa, make sure you checked on availability in advance.

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, celebrates the Christian holiday of Easter. Mexico is nearly 90 percent Catholic, so this religious holiday takes on a special meaning that the entire community shares and participates in. Live representations of the Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion take place in many little towns.  It is like a live play where people from the town assume the roles of Jesus, Virgin Mary, St. Peter, St. John and many other characters.



The origination for Cinco De Mayo, The Fifth Of May, commemorates the defeat of the French army by the Mexicans at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, but is also celebrated in other parts of the country and in U.S. Cities with a significant Mexican population.

The battle at Puebla in 1862 happened at a violent and chaotic time in Mexico's history. Mexico had finally gained independence from Spain in 1810, and a number of internal political takeovers and wars, including the Mexican-American War and the Mexican Civil War of 1858, had completely wiped out the national economy.  The victory of the battle at Puebla gave the people pride on their Country and the spirit of freedom.



Carnaval  is an official Mexican holiday that kicks off a five-day celebration of the libido before the Catholic lent. Beginning the weekend before Lent, Carnaval is celebrated exuberantly with parades, floats, costumes, music and dancing in the streets.

The festival of Carnaval is celebrated as a last indulgence of carnal pleasures that Catholics must give up for 40 days of fasting during Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. In fact, the word Carnaval is derived from Latin, meaning take away or goodbye to flesh, and strict Catholics will give up meat eating during Lent.

Carnaval is officially celebrated for 5 days, leading up to Ash Wednesday, with the most vigorous celebration taking place over the one weekend in Mexico. The wearing of masks during Carnaval is said to be a pagan practice as protection from evil spirits, but most likely evolved as a way to participate fully in the celebration with some anonymity.



Mexico's Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. It commemorates the beginning of Mexico's struggle for independence from Spain, which began on the 16th of September in 1810. Known as Dieciseis de Septiembre, it's often confused by Americans with Cinco de Mayo (which celebrates the victory at the Battle of Puebla).  In every town, small and large, el día de Independencia is celebrated with “El Grito de Independencia” (Independence shout) in which many Mexicans gather in the main square of the town at midnight to shout many “Viva México” to commemorate the shout made by Miguel Hidalgo on the original Independence Day.



In 1531 a "Lady from Heaven" appeared to a poor Indian at Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City; she identified herself as the Mother of the True God, instructed him to have the bishop build a temple on the site and left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth, which should have deteriorated in 20 years but shows no sign of decay 469 years later and still defies all scientific explanations of its origin.

Her message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection to all mankind, have been a very important part of all Mexican’s lives.  She is the patron of all Catholics in México who worship her truly.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th  with a mass celebrated with a Mariachi band.


Instituto de Lengua y Cultura de Yucatán
Mérida, Yucatán, México