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Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Day of the Dead in Puerto Vallarta, a Fiesta for the Living

Rossana Wyatt - Life is Full of Adventures
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October 19, 2019

Around October 31st until November 3rd come and discover the multiple cultural and artistic activities that Puerto Vallarta has prepared for you to enjoy the traditional Day of the Dead Festival. Be a part of the excellent folkloric atmosphere, full of music, flavors and colors of the altars and offerings exhibitions throughout the downtown.

Visiting Puerto Vallarta near the end of October as they lead up to Dia de Los Muertos celebrations in November, is quite different from our Halloween traditions in North America. Unlike Halloween, when death is something to be feared, in Puerto Vallarta, it is something to be celebrated, honoring the dead. The basic belief is that the human soul doesn’t die, so when one passes, their soul can travel to and from this world and the afterlife to visit.  

It is a week-long celebration with art shows, parades, and dances along with other festivities where art, religion, life, death, sadness, and humor all come together. It is topped off with “La Caravana de la Muerte” Parade at the end of the week followed by a big party and fireworks.

Everywhere you look throughout the week you will find bright colours and flowers. The Malecon, the Plaza des Armas and the areas surrounding are all brightly decorated with the Dia de Los Muertos altars from different organizations, restaurants, hotels and community groups. There is so much creativity within the altars that are assembled to commemorate the dead and call back the spirit of the loved ones for the celebration.

The meaning of the altars for El Dia De Los Muertos

The altars themselves are decorated with the deceased’s former possessions (or something that represents them in some way) as well as objects that symbolize things the deceased valued, owned or found meaningful ( in the case of someone famous). The traditional alters include a cross, candles, flowers (the bright and vividly coloured  Marigolds are the traditional flowers used), water, bright tissue paper,  photographs of the deceased, and the traditional Pan de Muertos. All the of the objects represent the 4 elements: earth ( food), water ( to quench their thirst from their long journey)  fire ( candles)  and wind ( colourful tissue paper blowing in the wind) to help the deceased journey back.

The cross also symbolizes the four cardinal points needed so that the deceased can find their way back to visit family and friends.

Although Halloween is celebrated on October 31st in North America, Nov 1st is El Dia de Los Inocentes (honouring children that have passed) and Nov 2nd is when the Dia del Los Muertos (adults) are remembered. Families visit the cemeteries during these two days to celebrate their loved ones who have passed. It is believed that on el Día de Los Muertos, the dead return to their former homes to visit their families.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be in the midst of the celebrations at this time? I loved all the incredible decorations and how everyone joined on the festivities… great to see the efforts from the hotels, restaurants and the community.

For the history of Day of the Dead in Mexico, Visit Puerto Vallarta.

See the video of Day of the Dead Festival 2019 at Visit Puerto Vallarta.

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