Monday, 21 November 2016

The Day of the Dead - in pictures

Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them. - George Eliot

That is what the Day of the Dead is really about; not forgetting.  Does it sound strange to be celebrating death?  Maybe, but then again, it is all part of the natural cycle of life.

Day of the dead


Last year I wrote about some of the customs  - some stranger than others - associated with this festivity in The Day of the Dead - 7 reasons to experience it.

On November 2nd, Mexicans honor and remember those who have died, usually by making an altar at home or in a public place in the name of a deceased relative or someone who made an important contribution to the local community or the country.  The altar is decorated with traditional symbolic elements as well as objects that characterise the person being honoured and their favourite food and drink.

The other important aspect of the Day of the Dead is to remind us of our own mortality.  You might be given a sugar skull , called a Calaverita, with your name on the forehead, which perhaps sounds a bit creepy, but maybe it does us good to remember that we're not going to live forever, that we should make the most of our time - live life to the full and without fear so that we don't fear death (to paraphrase Mark Twain).

If you scroll down to the end of my post on 7 Symbols of Mexico  you can read more about the origins of the sugar skull.

The other Calaverita, aside from the sugar skulls, is a humorous poem about the death of, normally, a well-known person who is not yet dead.  In these poems, and in fact in Mexican culture in general, Death is a female character, often nicknamed La Huesuda (the Boney One) or La Flaca (the Skinny One).  It's an intriguing mix of the macabre, absurd and hilarious, and very Mexican.

Most striking of all are the vibrant colours everywhere, as you can see in the photos...

Sugar skulls
Sugar skulls and amusing little skeleton figures on a market stall.

Day of the dead altar
The big altar set up in one of the main squares in the centre of Queretaro for the Day of the Dead.



Altar day of the dead
The ground around the altar was covered in a "carpet" of sawdust, dried chillies, corn and black beans.

Altar de muertos
Another Altar de muertos in a restaurant in the town centre.

Day of the dead altar
I think the skull is made from salt, sawdust and black beans.

Day of the dead altar
Emma crouching in front of an altar on display in the town centre.  The "carpet" is made from different coloured sawdust.

Day of the dead sugar skulls
On display in our local greengrocers: flowers to decorate your altar; cempasuchil and manita de leon, sugar skulls, large and small, and miniature baskets of fruit made from sugar paste.


Pan de muerto
Pan de muerto: traditional sugary bread, only sold around this time of year.  The shapes on top represent bones!  It is delicious!


Linking this post with #BigPinkLink

This Mum's Life

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday




7 comments:

  1. My daughter (6yo) would love this! She is obsessed with skulls and loves any kind of party and colourful flowers. She loves the movie too ;) #bigpinklink

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  2. I think it's a brilliant festival! We have All Saint's Day on the 1st which is similar I think, although not really celebrated. Death is inevitable after all, might as well turn it into a party. Thank you so much for being a part of the #bigpinklink it's great to have you with us!

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  3. Wow! It's such a colourful vibrant festival considering its celebrating death! But it's important to remember those passed and to remember than it is an inevitability and we should all make each day count! #KCACOLS

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  4. Reaally intrigued to read this as my colleague is Mexican and she gave me a childrens book about day of the dead. it mentioned the pan de muerto so its great to see what it actually is. also loving the carpet made of coloured saw dust - beautiful #KCACOLS

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  5. Oh wow this is so interesting, I've never heard of this festival! I love all of the bright colours! Thank you for linking with #kcacols

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  6. I learned about El Dia De Los Muertos [forgive the missing accent] in school when I studied Spanish but I've never experienced the festival. It looks so poignant and fun at the same time, along with being visually striking. #kcacols

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  7. I think this festival always looks fantastic. So bright and colourful #kcacols

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