“Anglos” have Halloween on October 31st. The French go to the “Sematary” on November first. La Toussaint. All saints’ day. A bit of a confusion there. Mexico celebrates “El día de muertos”, the Day of the Dead, as befits, on November 2nd. It is a deeply rooted tradition in Mexico, combining pre-hispanic traditions with Catholicism. The above pictures was taken a couple of years back in Alvaro Obregón Avenue in Mexico city. Note the cut-out paper. The skulls, “calaveritas”. Many still put a similar altar in their home. with pictures of the dearly departed and sugar skulls with the names of the living. I once had one given to me with my name on on it. 🙂
I understand the Chinese had, or still have a tradition dating back to as early as the 6th century AD. of honouring their dead for a whole month with paper lanterns and celebrations. Considering that the native population of the Americas came from Asia betwee 27,000 and 12,000 BC, I wonder how old the tradition is? The photo above is in Alvaro Obregón again. The orange flowers are cempasúchil, or cempaxóchitl. A carnation-like flower that blooms around those days, traditionally associated with the dead. The paper bags hold candles to be lit at night.
Death is ever present in Mexico. (And no, I will not comment on recent events). It is hidden, swept away in France. As if one could get away with Death! Mexicans recognize it is inevitable, but one can have fun with it. The skull above is decorated with condoms. The medicines are Tylenol. Apt for hangovers this particular dead might have been prone to.
A few years ago, we went to San Juan del Río, a small town in the state of Queretaro. It was the night of November first. around ten at night. As we left the restaurant to walk back to our hotel, we met a flood of people walking down the street in silence and hushed whispers. Got caught in the stream. Followed to the “Samatary”. All tombs had been cleaned up. Sweeped. Decorated with cut-out paper, garlands, orange flowers. Pretty much as the altars and Make-up tombs above. Candles were lit everywhere. The dead’s favourite foods and drinks had been placed on the tombstones. Relatives were chatting happily. Some of the dead’s favourite music and songs could be heard everywhere. Party! 🙂
Alvaro Obregón Avenue again. Note all the orange flowers. Cempaxutcli, or whatever! Even my mexican friends disagree how to spell the thing! This particular avenue in Mexico has a lot of copies of famous statues. That one is the Borghese Gladiator. Original is probably in Florence. Sorry. Take that back. Just Boogled it. The original is a hellenistic copy currently at the Louvre. (Darn! Missed it this summer!) Like the contrast between the statue and the flowers! 🙂
Skull on a table. Bizarro Café. Mexico city. Moved my beer (Negra Modelo) away for the picture. Cheers!
Evacuation route. (See the green sign) Bizarro Café again. Skulls are (too?) real.
La Santa Muerte, the Holy Death, painted on the back of a lorry. The Church of the Holy Death is a registered church. (With many issues…)
Back to Alvaro Obregón. Typical decoration similar to the altar one might build in one’s house, or at the graveyard.
The fruits – oranges, sugar cane – displayed, are offerings to the dead.
Detail from a previous picture.
Going back to San Juan del Río, the small town I mentioned earlier. The family spends the night or most of it by the tombs. Reminiscing. Laughing or crying. sometimes singing. Sharing memories. Then at one point during the night, a whiff of air signals that the dead have come by, tasted the food and the liquor. It is now time for the living to eat and drink in honour of the Dead.
That is an alebrije. Not directly related to “Día de muertos” apart from the skeletons. Will go back to the Alebrije theme in another post. (Maybe)
A cross-shaped altar in Alvaro Obregón. Mexico city.
Text and pix (c) BMO. Feel free to reblog though!
In case you didn’t count there are thirteen pictures in this post!
Happy Halloween. Feliz Día de Muertos. Stop by the Cemetery if you can. I’m sure some of our dearly departed will appreciate. 🙂