Birth, growth, reproduction and death are the transcendent phases in the human life-cycle. Every culture and social group celebrates them in accordance with the particular view of the world which surrounds it. In Mexico, the first and second of November are the dates on which the "days of the dead" are celebrated, in a festivity which is one of the most important occurrences in the social, agricultural and religious calendar.

The custom of making offerings to the dead exemplifies the racial melting-pot of modern-day Mexico. In indigenous and rural communities, above all, the dead person is seen as a being who must satisfy his basic needs through offerings, a pre-Hispanic custom which has survived in present-day traditions. Furthermore, the dead person must be helped to "die in peace" through services and prayers, as the Catholic tradition prescribes.

In this framework, the very special custom of making offerings for the dead acquires great significance since, ironically, it is through the cult of the dead that family relationships, economic exchange, unity and identity, not only at the family and community level, but also at the level of national culture, are strengthened.

In this learning object, we show you the traditions of the State of Oaxaca.
Canadian Heritage Information Network

Oaxaca, MEXICO
© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans