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Are You Ready to Give Up The Past–Part II (The Day of The Dead Celebrations)

Alter for Day of the Dead -Skull

Alter for Day of the Dead -Skull

 

The Day of the Dead celebrations or “El Dia de Los Muertos,” as it is called in Spanish is a tradition which has its roots in ancient Mesoamerican culture. In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, many alters or “ofrendas” are set up in the streets, in restaurants, in businesses and in homes to honor the loved ones who have departed. It is also a time when families gather in the cemeteries to clean up the graves and adorn them with flowers and to commune with those who have gone before. And although it is Mexico’s way of laughing at death, it is also a celebration of life.

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Several temporary markets pop up during this time selling the items needed to play out this annual ritual. These markets constructed of tents as far as the eye can see are adorned with brightly colored hanging cut out paper flags and have tables set up laden with tiers of “alfeniques,” which are colorful confectionery figurines handmade of sugar and decorated to depict such things as skulls, skeletons, coffins, animals and food which are used to place on the alters.

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The alters are made up of the alfeniques and flowers—the signature flower being the orange marigold, photos, candles, momentos, and food and drink beloved of the one who has passed.

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A major part of the celebration is the “Catrina” parade held in El Jardin which is the town square or central plaza where everyone hangs out. You never know what’s going to happen there. One day while we were there, the doors of the Parroquia church located on the plaza flung open and a bride and groom and throngs of people exited and we became participants in a wedding celebration. The most unique part of the celebration were these huge dancing puppets on stilts called “mojigangas” representing the bride and groom.

(click on the pictures to reveal a manual slideshow)

 

On the night of the Catrina Parade, crowds of people gathered in El Jardin to watch people dressed up as “Catrinas,” march around the square and there was even a competition to pick the best costume. The Mojigangas also parade. La Calavera Catrina was a zinc etching by Jose Posada depicting the image of a female skeleton dressed only in a hat befitting the upper class outfit of a European of her time. It was Posada’s illustration of a person who was ashamed of his Indian origins and dressed imitating the French style while wearing lots of makeup to make his skin look whiter. La Catrina is Mexico’s Grand Dame of Death and she has become an icon of Mexico’s Day of the Dead.  Here is a gallery of some incredible  pictures that I captured of the Catrina parade. These gracious people just allowed me to walk up to them and take pictures.

(click on the pictures to reveal a manual slideshow)

(Click on the pictures to reveal a manual slide show)

 

Finally, there were also carpets made out of seeds on the ground in the plaza which are roped off so that they will not be disturbed. I don’t know how long it takes to complete these grand mosaics, but they are works of art that is worthy of appreciation. If you ever get a chance, The Day of the Dead celebration is really something to experience.

Please join me next week for the final part of this story where you will find out what I learnt out of this whole experience. See you then.

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About the author suzannehosang

My name is Suzanne Hosang. I am an Author, Blogger and Healer My passion is working with plants, animals and crystals.

All posts by suzannehosang →

2 Comments

  1. This is a great post Suzanne; and such wonderful photos you’ve shared. It was wonderful making and sharing the magic of San Miguel with you, your sister and MOM!!! Hope all of you are doing well. Love, Sibyl

    Reply

    1. We are all doing well Sibyl. Thanks for asking. San Miguel was such a memorable trip, one that I will always treasure. I hope that you and Jay are doing well. I saw the picture of both of you having dinner together. How nice. Suzanne

      Reply

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