Til death do you party! Dia de los Muertos is a cherished Mexican holiday honoring the memories of loved ones who have passed away. Coming just a day after Halloween, and symbolized by an elegantly-dressed skeleton, Day of the Dead is often thought of as a similar celebration of the supernatural, but it is a uniquely Mexican holiday that’s more family than frightening.
A number of cultures honor their deceased family members, and Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos has its own vibrant history, traditions and practice that have endured and even revived. It’s on the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. And it’s worth a trip to Mexico at the beginning of November to take part.
Traditionally, Day of the Dead celebrations were family or small community-based food, drink and activities that provided support for the dearly departed in the afterlife and prepare them to reunite. Mexicans build altars in their homes, and visit cemeteries to decorate graves with candles to light the way for the deceased and sometimes picnic and spend the night beside their relatives’ graves.
Bread of the Dead, a sweet bread decorated with skulls, skull-shaped sugar confections, and bottles of pulque (fermented agave juice) or tequila, and jars of cinnamon-flavored corn porridge all featured in Day of the Dead celebrations.
With a revival in celebrating Day of the Dead on November 1st and 2nd, and global interest in Dia de los Muertos imagery around the world, some Mexican resorts this year are giving visitors to Mexico a way to participate in this iconic local cultural experience.
During the first week of November, Velas Resorts in Mexico will offer authentic celebrations ranging from catrina parades and nighttime cultural tours, culinary traditions and art and handicraft exhibits. Guests can savor pan de muerto and other traditional foods for the holiday and traditional altars that stand as a testament to the event’s cultural significance.
On November 2nd, Velas Vallarta springs to life with a parade featuring the iconic Mexican Catrinas, the elegant Day of the Dead skeletons in fancy dress. The guided experience showcases sculptures representing characters and stages of Puerto Vallarta’s vibrant history, and guides who will explain the origins and cultural significance of the cherished traditions.
From November 2-3, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit hosts the first annual “Mexology Fest,” a “spirited” fusion of Dia de los Muertos traditions and innovative mixology. Guests can immerse themselves in two days of workshops, tastings, and spirited evenings led by world-class mixologists from Mexico and the United States. Highlights include tequila craftsmanship with a Master Distiller, Painting & Pairing sessions with plant-based inks and Raicilla, and a night time takeover from Mexico City's acclaimed Licoreria Limantour, consecutively named The Best Bar in North America.
In Baja California Sur, Grand Velas Los Cabos will offer a Day of the Dead-inspired floating tray in the adults only Serenity Pool adorned with vibrant marigolds, the traditional flower of Day of the Dead. Additionally, an elevated turn-down service featuring culinary Day of the Dead amenities and a poolside Catrina parade accompanied by musicians and dancers are on tap for guests. Guests can get into the spirit, with opportunities to get into “Catrina Makeup” for a festive dinner featuring authentic Mexican cuisine.
At sister property Mar del Cabo, the centerpiece of the celebration is a three-course themed dinner spotlighting traditional Mexican cuisine. In the lobby, a welcoming “Mezcalina” drink with a black salt garnish sets the tone accompanied by live soloist music, canapes, and signature Jarritos shots.
Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta is offering a unique Day of the Dead experience featuring a nighttime tour where guests can explore the spirited Malecon promenade and witness special shrine displays, art exhibits, and festivities. A highlight here is a 7-storey giant Catrina designed by Puerto Vallarta artist Alondra Muca. Back at the hotel, guests at Casa Velas will receive a sugar skull gift in their suites accompanied by a story to explain the significance of the celebration.
At Grand Velas Riviera Maya, families have the chance to learn about traditional Mexican crafts such as Alebrijes, or Mexican folk art sculptures.Typically made of cardboard, wood, or clay,these historical figurines have inspired creativity from around the world. In fact, alebrijes are depicted as “spirit animals” in the Disney movie, Coco. During the workshop, children have the opportunity to craft their own Alebrije with the resorts’ exclusive Alebrijes painting class in its Kids’ Club.
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Images courtesy of Velas Resorts
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