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  • Writer's picturejulietacasaspanish

Día de muertos en Michoacán, una fiesta llena de color

The Day of the Dead is a tradition celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. These days, the souls of the dead, or “sus muertitos” as they call them in Spanish as an endearment expression which literally translates to “their dead ones”, return from the underworld to visit their loved ones who have placed their favorite meals and beverages on altars to celebrate together. On November 1st children are commemorated, and adults are honored on the 2nd.

Although the Day of the Dead is a national festival, Michoacán stands out for its unique ways of commemorating life after death. Each region in Michoacán has different rituals to remember “their dead”; a term of endearment traced back to prehispanic times.

One of the biggest attractions of the Day of the Dead is the decorations of graves, also artistic events such as plays, concerts, folkloric dances and religious events.

The lacustrine region in Michocán is one of the most beautiful settings for the colorful tradition that is the Day of the Death. This area consists of Lake Patzcuaro and its nine islands. The most famous of these nine islands is Janitzio- the point of reference of this festivity considered Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Day of All Saints and the Day of the Dead are festivities that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime, Pátzcuaro, Janitzio and Tzintzuntzan are the main places to visit.


Here, the streets are filled with chants and traditional music like La danza de los pescadores (the dance of fishermen), with which the hunting of the sacred duck is performed. Raised in the lake of Patzcuaro and hunted with a spear, on the night of November 2nd the duck is cooked for those who wait for the arrival of their dead relatives’ souls.

In the late night of All Saints Day, it is possible to see fishermen rowing their boats towards Janitzio, illuminating the lake with their candles.


Women and children march silently to the cemetery to place the ofrendas (offerings) on the graves and light altar candles to illuminate the night as purépecha [1] chants sound. Tzintzuntzan

In prehispanic times Tzintzuntzan (place of hummingbirds), was the most important city of the Purepecha Empire Nowadays this little town is considered a very important tourist attraction in Michoacan. During the Day of the Dead, the offerings are placed in black ceramic; and at sunrise, families that attended the celebration share food and have their own party.

[1] Purépecha is an indigenous community settled in the lacustrine and mountainous region of central Michoacán. Its traditions include its own style of songs and music.

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