Children of the Dead

There are dead children in Oaxaca.  Hundreds of them.  They hold parades, hang out on street corners, and run wild in cemeteries.  These little ghouls are coming to get you.  They are adorable!

These children from an elementary school prepare to visit a cemetery during Day of the Dead festivities and decorate graves with handmade cellophane bugs.

Of course these kids aren’t dead dead.  They’re dia de muertos dead.  Day of the dead dead.  They’re actually very much alive.  If you think that kids in America like Halloween then you need to visit Oaxaca, Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebrations.  This is Halloween on a sugar high and it lasts for an entire week!


Children everywhere love to dress up.  In Oaxaca the theme is all about ghouls and skeletons and a bloody end to life.  While it seems macabre, this is actually a very happy time in Mexico.  Departed ancestors return this week (in spirit) to commune with their families so the children get to spend time with their favorite relatives who have passed on.



During the week of celebration school groups and neighborhood associations parade through the streets accompanied by watchful parents and noisy brass bands.  Parents throw candy in the air that the little devils scramble to catch.



During the parades the children travel along the street inside a roped off area held by parents to keep them all together in the press of the crowd.  Everyone wants to get close to these little ones to get photos.  Kongo was no exception.



The Day of the Dead celebrations occur each year when the Catholic calendar marks All Souls Day and All Saints Day, which coincides with Halloween.  The tradition mixes Catholicism with traditional Aztec rituals and is celebrated all over Mexico but especially in the southern Mexican states like Oaxaca.


Getting ready for the parades is half the fun.  The girl above is decorated by one of the many face painters that gathering parks and squares throughout Oaxaca City.



After the parades the children and parents fill the streets to check out all the sites.  Above, the comely little skeleton sits safely on her father’s shoulders as they pass through the crowded streets.




Kongo is in Oaxaca as part of a week-long National Geographic Photo Expedition.

Travel safe.  Have fun!


3 thoughts on “Children of the Dead