Day of the Dead will be significantly different in 2020. Many of the traditional celebrations surrounding Día de Muertos have been canceled this year to avoid large gatherings on account of COVID-19.
Cemeteries famous for their ornate displays of cempasúchil flowers, Mexican marigolds, and other offerings for the dearly departed on tombs won’t be receiving visitors throughout the country - and the now renowned parade in Mexico City that would have seen its fifth iteration this year has been canceled. But there will be plenty of virtual events in their place.
The good news is that given the virtual nature of some of the celebrations, people around the globe can now participate in events that they would otherwise need to be in Mexico for. If you’re eager to resume travel and have always wanted to experience a traditional Día de Muertos, this is your chance to get a taste of this colorful spiritual celebration where Mexicans honor their dead.
This year, it’s possible to learn how to make pan de muerto (bread of the dead) no matter where you’re located. This traditional pastry decorated with bones made of dough is only found around this time. Foodies engage in veritable tastings throughout October in an attempt to choose a winner, and traditional sugar-topped versions are always found on altars. Professional baker Eliceo Lara is holding two online classes this weekend: traditional pan de muerto on Saturday, October 31, at 10 am local time (12 pm EST), and a chocolate-topped version on Sunday, November 1, at 11 am local time (12 pm EST). The classes are taught in both English and Spanish and cost US$20. Book your spot by contacting him via Instagram.
To keep with the spirit of honoring the tradition at home, the Mexican Secretariat of Culture is encouraging the population to create their own altars and share them on social media. Look for the hashtag #OfrendaInfinita on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and feel as though you’ve been invited into people’s homes. The best 100 photographs will be posted on Instagram @promocionCDMX on Saturday night, Mexico City time.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) will conduct a virtual guided tour of the exhibition Xolos, the Companions in the Underworld, on November 1 at 10 am Mexico City time (11 am EST) via Zoom. A treat for anyone who remembers Dante, the Mexican hairless dog featured in Pixar’s Coco. You can also take a tour on your own anytime on INAH’s website.
The main event of any Día de Muertos is a visit to the cemetery, and this year doesn’t have to be any different in that respect. The Guadalajara Secretariat of Culture organized a virtual tour of the Panteón de Belén cemetery via their Facebook page at 12 pm local time (1 pm EST). If you speak Spanish, you’ll be delighted to hear the legends of the souls resting there.
Xcaret, in the Riviera Maya, will be broadcasting its Festival of Life and Death at 7 pm EST via Xcaret Park’s YouTube channel. Virtual visitors will get to enjoy the park’s most iconic settings while learning about the festival and the traditions it’s imbued with.
And back in Mexico City, at 9 pm local time (10 pm EST) renowned singer Lila Downs will perform her yearly concert at the Auditorio Nacional. Watch her at Contigo en la Distancia, an initiative created by the local Secretariat of Culture to provide cultural entertainment at home.
The National System of Musical Promotion will premiere a video with a new version of La Llorona, a quintessentially Mexican song based on a ghost story that you might also recognize from Coco. With musical arrangements by Emilio Aranda Mora and performed by Ensamble Escénico Vocal, you can watch it on Facebook. A great way to end a long weekend of festivities.