Guided Experience: Day of the Dead Experience – Teotitlán del Valle Experiencing Day of the Dead with a Family of Artisans
Caminata guiada: 4 km / Nivel de condición física: Fácil / Tamaño del grupo: Hasta 12 personas
What you’ll do:
“The spirits of our loved ones will forever endure in the memory of the living.”
Our Day of the Dead experiences connect you with local families from indigenous communities where you can live the ancestral traditions of Oaxaca. Far away from the glamor of Day of the Dead festivities in the downtown area of the city, each community celebrates their deceased ancestors through distinct traditions. However, the overall vision and spirit of this unique celebration remains the same. We wait for the return of the souls of our loved ones who have passed on, as they embark on their journey to the land of living to spend time with their families and loved ones. Our ancestors come back to indulge in the essence of all of their favorite food and drink, which has been placed on families’ altars in their honor.
Teotitlán del Valle is a Zapotec community located in the Central Valley region that conserves a great deal of its culture through traditions, the zapotec language, cuisine, music, rituals and dance. This picturesque community is set in the Valley of Tlacolula just below the “Cerro El Picacho,” considered a sacred mountain for the community, as archaeological vestiges have been found on this mountaintop.
Our Day of the Dead will begin in the central square of Teotitlán; a place filled with history, vibrant colors and tradition. First, we will go to the market and purchase the flowers, fruits, and other adornments that we will be using as offerings to our ancestors on their Day of the Dead altar. In Teotitlán, the arrival of the ancestors crossing over to the portal of the living takes place at 3:00 in the afternoon.
On our way to our host families we will be able to observe some of the changes and modifications the Zapotec culture was forced to make following the conquest. The arrival of the conquistadores profoundly affected the Zapotec cosmological view, modifying the culture’s approach to architecture and religion. Now, Teotitlán is a perfect example of syncretism, which is essentially the combination of pre-hispanic religions and Catholicism. We will learn about how the Prehispanic festivities and All Saints Day celebrations brought by the colonizers infused to create the Day of the Dead we know and appreciate today. We will also have the opportunity to examine an amazing landscape which includes the sacred Cerro Picacho, an ancient Zapotec archaeological site, and the Catholic Church. This powerful viewpoint tells the story of the conquest of México.
After walking through the cobblestoned streets of the community, our host family will kindly receive us to speak a little bit about their culture and their Day of the Dead traditions. In Teotitlán, it is a cultural custom to dedicate an entire room in the home to the altar and we will be creating a small ritual to honor our ancestors in the afterlife.
At 3 in the afternoon, all of the doors and windows of houses in the community open and you can observe a deep silence, so powerful that it inundates every corner of every home. The spirits have arrived and are amongst us. This is a time to honor their presence and receive the souls of our loved ones.
We continue on our journey with a visit to the local cemetery where we solemnly walk amongst the tombs of the deceased as the sun falls on the Oaxaca valley. After, it is tradition to visit the altars of family members and neighbors leaving offerings of flowers, candles or bread. As our journey comes to a close we will say goodbye and sincerely thank all of our hosts in this wonderful community.
Outdoor activities carry risks, and you may be exposed to dangerous situations as part of this experience. Make sure you can participate safely given your abilities and the conditions (such as location, weather, and equipment).
12:00: Leave Oaxaca City
13:00 Walk through the community passing by the market, central plaza and church. Purchase the necessary adornments for our altar
14:00 Visit our host family’s home + Build our own altar
15:00 Local ritual welcoming the spirits
15:15 – 17:00 Spending time with our ancestors near the altar
17:00 Natural dye and Zapotec tapestry demonstration
18:00 Walk to the cemetery for sunset
19:00 Visit the altars of other family members and neighbors
20:00 Say goodbye and thank our host families
21:00 Return to Oaxaca City
Drinks: Coffee, Tea, Water, Beer and Mezcal
Lunch: Vegetables Soup, Memelas, quesadillas, tlayudas. (Vegetarian and Vegan Options)
Trail Mix: Organic snacks
Entrance Fee to community & permissions
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