MAGAZINE

Dia De Los Muertos: A Perfect Family Vacation

Photo by: Seth Nodelman
by Chip Conley | @ChipConley Wed October 31, 2012 | 12:00 AM

New_generationsBy Gabriela4 via Wikimedia Commons

Many of the festivals I feature are sort of adults-only kind of affairs and many Mexican fiestas can be pretty raucous. But, this fall-time event, especially in the relatively safe and mellow location of Oaxaca, can be a great family expedition.

First off, this is a unique family tradition in Mexico. So, you’ll see multi-generations of families making the pilgrimage to the cemetery or you’ll see front doors ajar to people’s home (in case the spirits lose their way) and makeshift altars and candles inside. Generally, most locals are very open about outsiders coming and celebrating this unique Mexican festival. Plus, this celebration honors both the young who’ve passed (a few days prior to Dia de los Muertos) as well as the adults so everyone gets equal billing.

But, what really strikes me is that more American and other Western parents ought to take their kids to see the rites of passage in other cultures. While Americans have Halloween, a festive time that all kids can relate to, wouldn’t it be interesting to introduce your kids to a more sacred and meaningful celebration around the same time of the year? Plus, the combination of eating grasshoppers, seeing the papier-mache skeletons that dominate street stalls, and hanging out in cemeteries after dark is just downright cool. Better yet, spend a week learning a little Spanish (if the kids aren’t already learning it in school) so that they can have the opportunity to order your meals. And, then put the little buggers to bed and go take some tequila shots downtown.

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