When exploring Mexico beyond typical tourist areas, you may see a variety of festivals celebrating both life and death. The biggest celebrations of life occur in January with the Epiphany and in the springtime with Easter. Mexico’s largest celebrations honoring death occur November 1st and 2nd with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Other times celebrations of life and death happen on a daily basis. While visiting a Mexican church or wandering in a small village, you may stumble upon a funeral. Different from planned funerals in the U.S., Mexicans bury their dead based on the person’s age and status within the Catholic Church.
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Stillborn or un-baptized babies die and are expected to receive an immediate burial. Mexicans believe these infants may transform into harmful animals and bring malice to the living. Baptized Christians of all ages are allowed to wait 24 hours before being laid to rest, as their souls are not in danger of transformation. During this time, the body is cleaned and prepared for visitation.
Depending on income abilities, Mexico’s deceased are buried in traditional coffins or placed in rolled mats; made of native grasses and straws. Financial status also determines what objects are placed in the burial plot. The more financially well-to-do a person is, the more objects may be buried with them.
Mexican people celebrate death anniversaries just as common as American people celebrate birthdays and wedding anniversaries. A big remembrance celebration is held a year after a person’s death. After that, it is up to the individual family; however most choose to celebrate the death on November 1st or 2nd; depending on the deceased person’s age and marital status. If the person was unmarried and under the age of 18, their celebratory day will be November 1st; while those older and/or married have their death’s remembered on November 2nd.