Home » Madrid: Ex-pat Experiences & Thoughts » Día de los Muertos y Dia de Todos Los Santos

Día de los Muertos y Dia de Todos Los Santos

This will be my first year experiencing Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day/All Saints Day in Spain. Funnily enough I haven’t spoken to any of my friends here about what is usually done to celebrate in Madrid. So consequently I have done some research, and this is what I have come with.

Oh, an interesting note to add before hand; Día de los Muertos has an uncanny resemblance to original Celtic celebrations, which were also celebrated on November 1st. The Celtic peoples honoured their dead; believing that November 1st was a day of transition between the old and the new. The people made offerings to their dead of fruit and vegetables; as those who had died (the spirits) would travel to the land of the dead together.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) it is traditionally a Mexican holiday on November 1st; family and friends come together to pray for, and remember friends and family members who have died.

Traditions connected with this holiday include building private altars to honour the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, along with favourite foods and beverages of the departed. Visiting graves with these as gifts is part of the celebration too. They also leave possessions of the deceased at the grave.

This holiday has its origins dating back hundreds of years; Aztec festivals for the Goddess Mictecacihuatl were the inspiration.

Day of the Dead has connection with the Catholic holidays of All Soul’s Day on November 2nd.

In Spain Dia de Todos Los Santos (All Saint’s Day) is celebrated on November 1st. In Madrid the 1st has been declared as a holiday, and most businesses will be closed.

Ofrendas (offerings) are made on this day to the dead. Friends and families visit the graves of their loved ones; to pray for them, leave candles and flowers. People will travel back to their home-towns, and villages to offer their respects also.

Presents are often given to children too; usually sweets and toys (similar to Halloween).

Streets are congested with cars heading to the cemeteries, out of the city. Florists sell more flower arrangements than at any other time of the year. Bakeries produce special orders of specific pastries like Hueso de Santos (Saint Bones). This pastry is traditional and made of marzipan, egg and sugar syrup.

People in Spain are frequently named after a saint. As is the case in many other Catholic countries; consequently people have their birthday, as well as their saint day, in honour of the saint they were named after.

Another little fact to add is that the play ‘Don Juan Tenorio’ is also traditionally performed during this time in Spain. In fact, once a year for over a century this tradition had taken place!

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© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


7 thoughts on “Día de los Muertos y Dia de Todos Los Santos

  1. Pingback: Dia De Muertos Zocalo 2012 « Stafaband

    • Hi Julien,

      Yes, very true, we do celebrate everything and anything in our culture.

      However, there is one day of life we all celebrate once a year; our Birthdays! Also, there is an ‘official’ celebration of life day on the 26th May!

      So, its not all doom and gloom! 🙂

      I am OK, not feeling on top form though, but thanks for asking.

      How are you?

      Thanks again for commenting, I appreciate your interest! 🙂

      • Such a synchronicity to what I said about celebrating Life…

        Read this if you feel like:

        I like that expression: “doom and gloom”. Great.

        Thanks for asking too:
        It is not easy all the times, living among these zombies here,
        but I manage to keep my inner calm even if I am not myself either in top form. As I see and appreciate the inconspicuous I am never bored, I always find reasons for Joy.

        • Hi,

          I read the post; might have a ‘celebrating life’ party 🙂 but then I always try to celebrate life and being alive when I party!

          Thanks, it is a good one to apply to any situation!

          Yes feeling isolated without the like minded isn’t a good feeling, but your managing to overcome, which is great. It was my inner ‘zombies’ or ‘demons’ I was battling, but then that is life every now and then!

          We all have our own ‘zombies’ to combat!

          • I do agree with you on that:

            “It was my inner ‘zombies’ or ‘demons’ I was battling, but then that is life every now and then!
            We all have our own ‘zombies’ to combat! ”

            If you can, stop combating them – combating means empowering these energies. Fighting against means acknowledging their existence. Let them pass…
            Don´t identify with them any longer – let your attention linger in what it builds you up instead.

            Hope you hear these words;)


          • Thanks for your words, I appreciate the sentiment within them 🙂

            I do hear, and agree 100%!!!!
            Usually I successfully divert myself with the things I enjoy. Only, sometimes the ‘zombies’ catch hold of me before I am fully able or willing to ignore them. At least I know this though, and can stop it.

            Thank you again, hugs to you too! 🙂

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