A Few days after Halloween, comes Day Of The Dead. On November 2nd, the veil that divides the world of the living and the spirit world becomes thin and our departed walk freely among the living.
We prepare altars with food and drink offerings to entice the spirits of our loved ones to stay and spend the day with us. It is a beautiful tradition, full of colors and ancient beliefs that come from pre-hispanic times.
The Mexican culture has a beautiful relationship with death. We fear it because it’s the end of our life, but at the same time we rever it and celebrate it with flowers, food and drinks. Sometimes it can be seen as macabre and morbid.
But our culture accepts mortality as part of nature, the cycle of life is reflected on everything we do, and on Day of the dead, we choose the most beautiful flowers , the most delicious foods and the finest spirits to be offered as gifts to the dead.
We dress up lIke death and spirits, embracing mortality and the nature of life. Marigolds are a central theme for the celebration, and it becomes a colorful festivity that celebrates every living thing.
This year, we could go back to the streets to celebrate a day of the dead festival, and our cities went all the way with two parades and a huge event of offerings on Day Of The Dead Night, and of course, I went to celebrate.
The parade was a beautiful experience, skull dancers, devils, angels and death walked and laughed with us, we ate traditional bread and really enjoyed a great time.
At night, we visited the altar and thumbs offerings exhibition. It was full of candlelights, flowers, candy skulls and delicious food. Hummingbirds are the messengers between the dead and the living, and there was a beautiful paper bird welcoming us at the entrance.
Dogs guide the newly departed to the spirit world, and I found this super cute and paper mache friend guarding a flower garden, waiting for his owner’s spirit to return after visiting their loved ones.
Another part of the tradition is creating mandala like patterns on the floor using sand and sawdust. A lot of work is put into them, and they are erased after the day is over. I Find it a beautiful tribute to the impermanence of life. One day here, and the next, poof, it’s gone.
Altars and offerings are an expression of the Mexican culture, we make them not only to our famity and loved ones, but also to the heroes of the people. Masked fighters like “El Santo” are always a favorite, and now you know where Nacho Libre came from.
It was an amazing experience, and I really enjoyed it a lot, specially after being unable to visit public events because of the pandemic. At the end, there was a collective offering where you are encouraged to write the names of your departed on a colorful piece of paper and pin it on a wall.
We left our message to our dearly departed before heading back home, it was a warm feeling knowing that they walked at our side, ate and drank with us and were happy that our lives continue, even when we miss them like the first day.