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Mexican Festivals and Celebrations

Updated on October 18, 2013

Celebrate Mexico's Colorful Culture and Festivals

Mexico today is an eclectic, colorful mix of ancient pagan influences left behind by the ancient Maya, Aztec and Zapotec tribes. The Catholic missionary efforts began by the Spaniards around 1519 also added to the simmering melting pot that eventually formed a new uniquely fascinating cultural identity.

The Mexican people have preserved many of their early ancestral beliefs by blending both the new and the old rituals into the wonderful traditions festivals and holidays we see celebrated throughout Mexico today...

Peoples Guide to Mexico

The People's Guide to Mexico
The People's Guide to Mexico

Now in its updated 13th edition, The People's Guide to Mexico still offers the ideal combination of basic travel information, entertaining stories, and friendly guidance about everything from driving in Mexico City to hanging a hammock to bartering at the local mercado.


Los Dias de los Muertos - Day of the Dead

Although "Los Dias de los Muertos" literally means "Day of the Dead", it is really a Mexican celebration of both life and death.

This autumn festival, merges Aztec and Catholic practices of the Catholic feasts of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day-November 1 and 2. Celebrants honor the spirits of family ancestors; spirits of children are thought to return on the 1st and adults on the 2nd.

Altars are built, and then covered with food and decorations. Cemeteries are decorated with fresh flowers. Paper mache sculptures depict the dead in an everyday context, such as skeletons, and most are comical in nature. Through music and feasting, everyone embraces the totality of both life and death.

Cinco de Mayo

May 5th

Cinco de Mayo (translated "May 5th") celebrates a very proud moment in Mexican military history. However it is a holiday, celebrated more throughout the United States, than it is in Mexico.

On May 5, 1862, in the state of Puebla de los Angeles , about 100 miles east of Mexico City, heavily outnumbered Mexican soldiers preserved the democratically elected government of President Benito Juarez against an invading French army.

The victory was a great source of national pride for the fledgling democracy of Mexico.

Share and Learn About Mexico's Fiestas

Guelaguetza Festival - Harvest Festival

Held each July, on two consecutive Mondays, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Also known locally as "Los Lunes del Cerro" (Mondays on the Hill).

The word "guelaguetza" hails from the Zapotec Indian language and means an offering or gift. The Guelaguetza Festival is rooted in pre-Columbian tradition, when the area's indigenous peoples honored the goddess of maize (corn) through ceremony and ritual.

Each year at the height of the rainy season (mid-July), the people would gather and pay homage to "Centeotl", the corn goddess, to ensure a bountiful harvest.

During the Spanish occupation, Catholic missionaries disapproved of these pagan rituals. As a result, the church promoted the feast of the Virgin of Carmen, celebrated on the 16th of July, as an alternative to the corn goddess festivities.

Eventually both cultures and traditions combined to evolve into the modern La Guelaguetza festival celebrated today.

Bring Mexico Home with Talavera Art

El Grito de Dolores

Mexican Independence Day

El Grito de Dolores is Mexican Independence Day.

Every 16th of September, Mexico celebrates the day that Father Miguel Hidalgo, a Catholic priest in the small central Mexican town of Dolores, rang the bell of his church and called everyone to fight for liberty against Spanish rule.

The Independence War, lasted for 10 years. Today, the story is re-enacted in every "zocalo", or plaza, in Mexico.

Flags wave from every structure. Lighted decorations are put up, and people of all ages join in Mexico's biggest fiesta.

Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

In December of 1531. A recently converted Indian, Juan Diego, was traveling over Tepeyac Hill-the former site of an Aztec shrine to the goddess Tonantzin-outside of Mexico City.

When Juan Diego reported to the local bishop that he had seen the mother of the Christian God on Tepeyac Hill and she addressed him in his native language and asked that a shrine be built for her at the site, Church officials were skeptical.

Bishop Zumarraga asked the elderly Aztec to bring a sign of the apparition. Three days later, Juan Diego returned to the bishop and released a bundle of roses from his cloak, on which a colorful image of the Virgin Mary appeared. Stunned by the image and the abundance of roses in the middle of December, the bishop ordered that a shrine be erected.

In 1859 her feast day, December 12, became a Mexican national holiday.

Las Posadas

The Shelter

Las Posadas, meaning the "shelter", commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It begins on the 16th of December and continues continues through January 6.

After dark, each night of the "Posada," a procession begins, led by two children. The children carry a small pine-decorated platform bearing replicas of Joseph and Mary riding a burro. Others carry candles, paper lanterns and banners as they proceed from house to house in search of a place to stay. At each residence along the procession route they are refused shelter, until at last, they are welcomed in at the last home. They then celebrate with prayers, food and a "pinata" for the children.

Your Favorite Mexican Holiday?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Day of the Dead celebrates the dead of corse there is going to be creepy things up, what do u what it to be? rainbows and unicorns?!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm doing a Mexican culture project for school and one of the things I had to write about was celebrations and this website helped me a lot!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i love the pepper lights

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The dead is not creapy at all

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, I am from Mexico

    • profile image

      travellingoverseasisawesome2014 5 years ago

      Hola, yo soy Lyn de Singapur, I am a big fan of Mexico city.. :)

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      That day of the dead looks very creepy!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago


    • profile image

      VillaDejaBlue 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      Love it, great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      day of the dead

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 6 years ago

      great lens :)

    • profile image

      VillaDejaBlue 6 years ago

      Nice lens

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      Nicely done lens & great resource. ***Angel blessed*** :)

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Very nicely done, Angel Blessed.

    • profile image

      luxuryworldtraveler 7 years ago

      You got a very wonderful lens. Spending Mexico luxury holidays wouls brought real fun.

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 7 years ago

      Mexico has a rich culture. I used to live in Toluca near Mexico City. Great lens.

      blessed by a Squid Angel

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      They have some great holidays, makes me envious! I'm lensrolling it to my Cinco de Mayo t-shirts lens.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      I didn't know about the other festivals beyond Cinco de Mayo. I am lensrolling to my Cinco lens. Well presented lens.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      I know about a few Mexican holidays, especially Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos. Las Posadas and Guelaguetza Festival are very interesting as well. Lovely, well developed, *blessed.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      What a beautifully colorful and creative story you have presented! Love Mexico.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love this lens. Very informative and colorful. Thank you for adding to the plexo on Festivals, Fairs and Special Events. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      thanks for the info...helps alot

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      There are just nine Posadas; they begin on December 16 and end on December 24 which is the last Posada.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      thanx i got lots of info and cool photos

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      this was very interesting and i got a lot of info from it thnx:P

    • shwetashah profile image

      shwetashah 9 years ago

      Great lens. I really like all the photographs which you have put in lens. It represent Mexico. 5*

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Wow, such beautiful and vibrant colors! Thanks for adding this to All Things Travel.

    • julcal profile image

      julcal 9 years ago

      I love Cinco de Mayo day ! Mexican food for everyone!

      5* !!!