The Day of the Dead in Michoacán: 4 tips to live this experience to the fullest
The Day of the Dead is one of the most iconic holidays in Mexico. And the State of Michoacan stands out, particularly for preserving its own version of this festival. If you are planning to go to Michoacán for these dates and you wonder what to do or what places to visit, here are 4 basic tips so you can travel to Michoacan, rent a car with MEX, and live this fascinating experience first-hand.
The Dead´s island
On the eve of November 2nd, in the old cemetery of Janitzio´s island, the Animecha Kejtsïtakua festival, which in purepecha language means the "Night of the Souls", takes place. In the darkness of midnight, and with no more lighting than hundreds of candles on the tombs covered with cempasuchil flowers and other offerings, the villagers remember their deceased ancestors.
In Pátzcuaro Lake one of the traditional rituals, called the "Danza de los pescadores", is performed: dozens of boats, with the typical butterfly nets and each one guided by a burning torch, go in search of the "Pato sagrado". Downtown local people offer the bread of the dead, sugar skulls, and other decorations alluding to the festival. You cannot miss this experience in Janitzio.
The festival of Patzcuaro
Not to far from there you'll find the magical town of Pátzcuaro, on the lake´s shore with the same name. In this place, the Day of the Dead is also a big party. The streets are full of visitors and there are food stalls everywhere. Many people paint their faces black and white, in the style of the Mexican catrinas, and dozens of typical altars fill the town.
Music is a fundamental part of this festival: local bands make the nightlife rumble with their fandangos and jaranas. People dance and sing happily in the square, because for them the Festival of the Dead is a memory, yes, but it's also a joy. You need to travel to Pátzcuaro to feel this show.
The tradition of the “place of the hummingbirds”
Further north, although following lake´s shore, is Tzintzuntzan, a town of artisans whose name in purepecha means "place of hummingbirds' '. Here the Festival of the Dead stands out for the handicrafts made by its inhabitants: decorative pottery, flower arches, straw angels, fruit ornaments and carved wooden objects, etc.
This town also keeps an ancient pre-hispanic tradition and preserves an archaeological zone with the ruins of indigenous settlements. During the Conquest, when the Spaniards arrived in the area, they were impressed by the local customs and tried to christianize some practices. Over the time, this gave way to a very particular fusion that is still reflected in their way of celebrating today. Rent a car with us and drive to Tzintzuntzan to discover this folklore.
Gastronomy to remember
According to tradition, on the Day of the Dead, the ancestors return from the afterlife to share a moment with their loved ones. For this reason, all kinds of typical dishes that were their favorite in life are prepared for them, such as the Turkus, which is a fish quesadilla with a blue corn tortilla, the Pajpakata, a fish broth wrapped in pumpkin leaves, the Kuiris, prepared with duck in sauce, the tamal-type corn corundas with cream and cheese, etc. Dare to try the exuberant gastronomy that Pátzcuaro´s lake region has to offer.
In summary, the festival of the Day of the Dead in Michoacan is a true carnival of bouquets, tastes, and flavors, in which the alive and the dead coexist peacefully and Mexican traditions flourish in abundance. Do not miss the opportunity to visit this region that is also very close to large cities such as Morelia, Mexico City, and Guadalajara. Rent a car with MEX and live the unforgettable experience of the Day of the Dead in Michoacán.