Mega Market for Muertos: Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

They tell me tomorrow’s market on October 31 will be even bigger in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, as everyone prepares for Dia de los Muertos.


Huge trucks filled with oranges are parked in front of the church. Vendors sell copal incense, at least five different varieties of marigolds, brilliant magenta rooster’s crown, pecans and walnuts, lots of handmade Oaxaca chocolate and pan de muertos — the special bread of the season made with butter, knotted and topped with a Jesus or Mary milagro.


Beyond the market courtyard is Picacho rising to a pristine blue sky as if making a special blessing on the village.


Later, I get water delivered to fill the rooftop cistern. Danny tells me his abuelos will be here with his family for an extra day this year, arriving from the underworld on Saturday and departing on Monday.

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It is a festive time. The cane branches will arc over each home alter to provide a door for departed loved ones to re-enter and visit their families. They will be guided by incense, the scent of flowers, the smell of hot chocolate, tamales and mezcal.


Death and life are one, integral to what it means to exist. This morning I hang papel picado and little cut-out-doll skulls across the patio. Vases of marigolds and incense fill the house where I live with memory for my own father and grandparents.


Soon, my son will arrive and we will join comparsas and family meals. It is a festive time in Oaxaca.

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7 responses to “Mega Market for Muertos: Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

  1. i really admire your work and admiration for my hometown

  2. I will be in the market tomorrow, Norma. Look forward to seeing you on Saturday! xoxo, MTV

  3. Norma – I know you are looking forward to your sons visit.
    Am curious to know how the huipil sales went. Those huipils are made of a heavy material are they not?

    Thanks, Susanne

    • Hi, Susanne. The weight of the cloth depends on the weaver and the design she uses. Some are quite lightweight while others are a denser, heavier weave. I also have a blog post to write about the huipiles from Soyaltepec, where cotton is exquisitely embroidered to depict flowers and birds.

  4. Oh how I wish I could be there! I am fortunate to have been in Oaxaca during Dia de Los Muertos three years ago and the attitude toward and care of the departed was a very powerful experience for me. What a sacred and loving time – and fun!!!

    • Yes, Claudia, it’s a wonderful tradition for honoring and remembering the deceased — there is no hiding from death here. It is a joyous, loving and celebratory occasion that is a part of the life cycle. Thanks for sharing your own memory.

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