Day of the Dead | Guatemalan Traditions

Day of the Dead | Guatemalan Traditions

Hello, I would like to take a moment to share the traditions practiced in Guatemala during Day of the Dead – Dia de los Muertos. Originally form Guatemala, I have true connections with my beloved Tierra of Guatemala. So, please take this beautiful journey with me, Ana Alarcon from Ana & Zelli and Alarcon Restaurants (Alarcon Restaurants on Facebook) – Wisconsin mom blogger and restauranteur.

Day of the Dead is actually a three day celebration, starting from October 31st to November 2nd. October 31st being used for preparation for all the festivities and to start the mourning of passed loved ones. November 1st being All Saints’ Day being dedicated mostly to the memory of beloved children – angels. November 2nd All Souls’ Day being dedicated to all passed loved ones and family. All three days are mainly celebrated at grave sites and enjoyed with family and it is truly a time for celebration and should not be mistaken as a time to be scared or sad.

Example of an alter we have done at our restaurants.

The four elements, plus other traditional items should be represented at these celebrations. Fire, is represented by the burning of candles, to help guide the dead to be amongst the living for the festivities. Water, is represented as an offering to go along with food offerings. Earth, is represented through food like Tamales, Ayote en Dulce, Fiambre and Pan de Muertos (day of the dead sweet bread – not too sweet); the aromas are also used to invoke spirits. Cempazuchitl or marigolds – the yellow flower of the dead is used to decorate the graves. Air/Wind, is represented through Papel Picado – cut out tissue paper and in Guatemala through kite flying. At the altars beautiful keepsakes of passed ones are brought, decorated sugar skulls represent and honor loved ones and photographs are shown for remembrance.

Example of food we have made in celebration.

Guatemalan Traditions:
There are two prominent festivals for the Day of the Dead in Guatemala and stand out from other places. One being the Giant Kite festival, where giant room size handmade kites are flown above grave yards to honor the dead and at the end when the kites have been torn by the wind they are burned, so the smoke guides the dead back up to heaven. This is remarkable to me, because it takes days, weeks to make these beautiful handmade giant kites. The other festival is Todos Santos, a horse race like none other. It is for sure a silly event, because the night before and even during the event, the men party and drink to celebrate. They wear traditional clothing and celebrate by remembering passed loved ones in this kind of crazy celebration.


I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the celebrations of Day of the Dead in Guatemala and Guatemalan Traditions. Make sure to participate in anything you can in your home towns for Day of the Dead. In Wisconsin, we have a wonderful Day of the Dead Parade and many people even paint their faces like skulls to celebrate, like I did and do. Please make sure to like Ana & Zelli on Facebook, view our events and learn more about us on our blog page Ana & Zelli, Gracias!

Me (Ana)

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Ana Alarcon

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  1. Pingback: Calavera Puppets for Day of the Dead - Multicultural Kid Blogs

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