For decades, Día de los Muertos (also known as Day of the Dead) was mostly celebrated in Mexico, but in recent years, it has gained popularity in the United States. Now, you’re likely to see references to the holiday in movies or see Día de los Muertos items for sale at your local store. But the holiday, which celebrates the lives those who have passed away, is more than just sugar skulls and face paint.
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In Mexico, traditions are sacred and family is everything. So when the Coronavirus pandemic hit Mexico and threatened to take away many of the country’s prized traditions, people sprung into action to think outside the box so that communities could continue celebrating the year’s many traditions but in a low-risk way.
It’s this commitment to tradition and ingenuity that is helping Día de Muertos traditions live on this year, despite the surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.
Día de Muertos is usually celebrated across Central and Southern Mexico with large celebrations that include people from the entire pueblo. Well, obviously this year that isn’t exactly possible (or at least safe) so authorities are creating new ways to bring the important celebrations to Mexicans (and others) around the world.
Thanks to Covid-19, our Día de Muertos celebrations will look a lot different this year.
Typically at this time of year, Mexico bustles with activity and cities and pueblos across the country come to life full of color and scents. The cempasúchil – the typical orange marigolds associated with Día de Muertos – are everywhere and the scent is intoxicating.
However, things look exceptionally different this year. Mexican authorities have said cemeteries will remain closed for the Nov. 2 celebration, meaning that people aren’t buying up the flowers as in years past. In fact, according to many growers, less than half the typical amount have been grown this year.
Along with the cutback in flowers and typical holiday purchases, nearly all of the country’s major events have been cancelled by authorities. However, officials say that families can still celebrate but in more private ways or by tuning into online, virtual events.
Mexican authorities are urging people to practice sana distancia and avoid large family gatherings – including for Day of the Dead.
For many Mexicans, however, this year is especially important to celebrate the holiday in honor of the loved ones they’ve lost to the pandemic. Mexico has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries as there have been more than 855,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 86,338 deaths. Although those numbers are said to be highly skewed thanks to one of the world’s lowest testing rates.
“This year is very special because my family members died of COVID-19,” said Dulce Maria Torres in an interview with NBC News, who was buying flowers at a traditional market in the Mexican capital. “It’s important to me and we want to make them a beautiful offering.”
However, authorities are pleading with people to help contain the virus’ spread by avoiding the traditional family gatherings associated with the holiday.
As Mexico works to curb the spread of Covid-19, most events are going virtual this year.
Authorities across Mexico are working to maintain a balance between tradition and safety as they work to bring Día de Muertos celebrations to an online audience.
In an interview, Paola Félix Díaz, Director of the Tourism Promotion Fund, said that “Events such as the Day of the Dead are an opportunity to generate a tribute to all the people who have left because of this disease but also as a reminder of all the traditions that cannot be stopped.”
Officials are working an app called “Xóchitl, Mexico’s virtual ambassador for the world” that will work as an interactive digital platform featuring AR (Augmented Reality), which will include content related to Mexican traditions, culture, and entertainment.
The platform will give access to virtual events, live streaming for the promotion of beautiful Mexico City in a safe way without putting anyone at risk. The parade will be held inside a stadium or a recording studio, without public and following all COVID-19 protocols. The event will be broadcast in many different online platforms”
Even Mexico City’s famed Día de Muertos parade is going virtual this year.
Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade is one of the country’s biggest tourism draws. Just last year the city had more than 2 million people at the parade. In addition, it’s a widely sponsored event by large companies such as Apple and Mattel. It brings in millions of dollars of revenue to the city.
Félix Díaz said that the possibilities of a virtual parade or “looking for these new trends such as drive-ins or a car tour are in talks. We are planning it.”
Cancun’s Xcaret park will be hosting an online festival to celebrate the holiday.
Although the sustainable park based outside Cancun has suspended all of its events and activities for 2020, in accordance with WHO recommendations, the park will host a virtual celebration for Día de Muertos.
Although the official date hasn’t yet been confirmed, the group says that they are excited to bring the event (now in its 14th year) to people around the world via an online celebration.
Events in the U.S. will also be taking place online – from California to New York.
One of the country’s largest Día de Muertos events, held in LA’s Grand Park will take place with 12 days of virtual celebrations. You’ll find arts workshops, digital ofrendas and storytelling online, as well as in-real-life art installations at the neighboring Downtown locations. Self-Help Graphics & Art—which hosts its own Day of the Dead event—has curated 11 large-scale altars for socially distant viewing, with audio tours available online.
Downey moves its annual Day of the Dead celebration from the city’s civic center to the internet with this virtual celebration. In the lead-up to the event you’ll be able to find recipes and crafting tutorials, and on the day of you can expect a mix of movies, music, ballet folklorico performances, shopping opportunities and a pair of art exhibitions.
And for those of us who can’t wait and/or want 24/7/365 access to Día de Muertos events, there’s always Google. The platform brings tons of Day of the Dead exhibits and information to users around the world through its Google Arts & Culture site, which you can view here.
Mexico’s famed Día de Muertos celebration seems to be everywhere these days. Following the James Bond film Spectre – which featured several scenes amid a fictional Day of the Dead parade – Mexico City created the parade just to satisfy people’s demands.
Now, Día de Muertos is being picked up by brands from all over the world as a way to pay tribute to the popular, traditional holiday (and likely make some money in the process…)
Nike is the latest brand to announce its own Día de Muertos collection and it’s already got fans of the iconic brand ready and waiting with their wallets in hand.
Nike announced its latest Día de Muertos collection which is set to debut later this month.
Last week, the footwear company announced it will be releasing its 2020 Día de Muertos collection later this month, ahead of the Mexican holiday where families gather to celebrate their loved ones who have passed away.
According to Nike’s announcement, the collection includes four styles of shoes including the Air Max 90, the DBreak Type, the Blazer Mid and the Air Jordan 1, all with unique designs that have “a modern approach grounded in art and culture.”
“Día de Muertos’s traditional ofrendas, or altars, serve as the design inspiration behind each of the silhouettes and apparel pieces, with colors, patterns and crafted details nodding to the delicate, handmade artwork of papel picado and flowers typically seen at an altar,” the announcement said.
In addition to the four noteworthy sneaker types that will be available, the collection also includes t-shirts and a sweatshirt, all of which will likely sell out fast – so have your wallet ready!
Nike’s Día de Muertos collection is known for its festive colors and iconic designs.
The Nike Day of the Dead sneakers are the sneakers that the swoosh brand launches every year to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It is an annual celebration and remembrance, known for its striking iconography and festive colors.
Using the traditional Mexican Cempasúchil flower as a common thread and interpreting the motto “Para Mi Familia”, the four models are colorful tributes to the members of the family, both present and past.
Each pair is based on the traditional Day of the Dead ofrendas (altars), using bright color schemes and intricate details that salute the delicate papel picado and flowers that often surround them.
Some of the pieces — specifically the T-shirts, sweatshirt, the DBreak Type and the Air Jordan 1 — even have the phrase “Para Mi Familia” written on them, to bring the collection “back to the notion of family,” the announcement said.
The collection will even feature a special, limited edition Nike Air Jordan 1.
First up are the Nike Air Jordan 1 mid-cut shoe. It combines a white base with purple and gold overlays, provides a “Family” touch on the fender, special details on the tongue badge and insoles and a cracked leather around the neck.
If you’re looking for color, then the Air Max 90 will likely be your first choice.
The Nike Air Max 90 shoe is the most vibrant shoe of the bunch, covered from toe to heel in playful, swirling patterns that use multiple shades of red, yellow and orange.
Nike’s latest Día de Muertos collection is already available at Nike stores in Mexico but it the collection will be available globally in the Nike App SNKRS from the 15th of October.