Monday, November 5, 2007

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos is a huge celebration in Mexico. It is a combination of a pre-hispanic practice as well as a tradition that the Spaniards brought with them when they conquered Mexico. In a nut shell Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on the first and second of November. On these days many Mexicans believe that their dead come back. In order to honor and greet the dead ofrendas are constructed. The ofrendas, or offerings, usually include flowers (especially marigolds), pictures of the departed, candles, food (sweets for the kids and more substantial food for the adults), and water (because of the long journey). One of the most popular decorations during this time of year is the skeleton, particularly the skull, or the calavera. While this may sound morbid and a little scary to some, here it is a joyful celebrations. We walked through the graveyard (panteon) near our home and found groups of people gathered around grave sites while mariachi bands played. Children also dress up as children in the US do and have a little pumpkin basket. They go around asking people for money or sweets, but mostly money. One of the typical foods on this day is "pan de muerto"or bread of the dead. It is really yummy. It sort of has a lemony flavor. Death is certainly viewed very differently here than back home. There is a difference, however, between the Catholics and the Protestants here. The Protestants as a rule do not celebrate the day, choosing to focus instead on the resurrection of the dead only when Christ returns. On Friday night we visited the Zocalo, which is in downtown Mexico City where a variety of ofrendas had been set up in the square. It was fascinating.
A metro stop, a panteon is a cemetary.

An example of an ofrenda

It is hard to see, but this was a giant Lucha Libre ring with skeletons acting as the luchadores.
(Lucha Libre is basically equivalent to WWF)

This was a display showing an ancient tradition of the Aztecs to display decapitated heads.

Another ofrenda, these are skeletons in front of a bread store.
(The ofrendas in the Zocalo were more generalized, others throughout the city were for specific people.)
This is made entirely of seeds.

Another made completely of seeds representing Frida Kahlo, a very famous Mexican artist.
A large ofrenda in the Aztec tradition.

The entire square was completely full, you could barely move let alone see the ofrendas.

Our family gave us our own little "calavaritas"which are commonly used to decorate the ofrendas.

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