Living Like a Local: Día de los Muertos in Michoacán

In history class, most of us learned about Día de los Muertos, which falls on November 1st and 2nd every year. Mexicans pray for and celebrate friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. Betcha didn’t know that the 1st is dedicated to the children, and the 2nd is dedicated to the adults!


My host family is teaching me so much about the culture in Mexico, and shared a tidbit about this Mexican holiday. In Michoacán, a state in Mexico, residents take this holiday to a whole ‘nother level. They spend this holiday at los panteones, or the cemeteries where their loved ones rest. Here are some fun, rather bizarre facts (to Americans) that happen during this time:

  • Michoacán celebrates Noche de los Muertos, where people will sleep over in the cemeteries next to their loved ones’ tumbas (tombstones). The cemetery is filled with lit candles and maravillas (yellow marigolds), which are said to be bright and deter the bad spirits from lingering around.
  • Mexicans in Michoacán have a tradition from waaaaay back where they will dig up the graves of their loved ones to CLEAN THEIR BONES. Yes, you read that right. I looked at my host father in disbelief as he said this, and he said it’s a strange tradition alright, but it’s been practiced for centuries :O