And So Many Holidays!
|Dia de Muertos Brings Out the Catrinas|
Many Holidays are Unique to Mexican Culture
Dia de Muertos, a very festive time in Mexico, means literally Day of the Dead. A festival that revolves around death? I didn’t understand it for years. The celebrations last for several days, from October 31 through November 2. This is a time when families and friends celebrate, inviting the souls of those who have died to join them on earth. A large part of this celebration takes place in the cemetery at the loved one’s grave. Food, alcohol, candles, flowers, and other gifts are placed on the grave, offered to bring the soul to earth. The family members will have a picnic at the grave, eating a meal and drinking beer. The belief is that their departed love ones’ souls join them to share this meal. This was difficult for me to understand when we first started traveling to Mexico. In the United States, in non-Hispanic cultures, when we visit a grave-site, we feel sadness at the loss of our loved ones, certainly not a festive joy.
|One of Many Altars for Dia de Muertos, Day of the Dead|
After living in this beautiful country for some time now, I have come to see this festival as a celebration of life, a time to remember and honor the people who have passed from this earth. The town plazas become a place where many colorful alters are built with flowers, food offerings, candles, sand and rocks, personal articles, and photographs, each honoring a deceased person. Music and entertainment fill the downtown with people mingling and strolling through the path between alters, admiring the artwork of each memorial, then moving on to enjoy the festivities. Later in the night, a long line of quiet Mexicans can be seen walking from the plaza, through downtown and neighborhoods, to the cemetery, each carrying a lighted candle.
|Parade for Dia del Niño (Day of the Child)|
Dia del Niño, Day of the Child, is also unique to Mexican culture, and a very big deal in the town we live in. The main street into downtown is closed for hours for a parade and it seems the whole town turns out to watch the children dressed in costumes, riding in floats that cruise the streets around the plaza. It is a lively, happy festival with the crowd filling the plaza and spilling into the streets. Two young children dressed as the King and Queen of the day ride in their own fancy float. They help throw treats including balls and hula hoops to children and adults alike.
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