Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day of the Dead, part I

It's official – my favourite Mexican celebration is the Day of the Dead, by far! It lasts three days (though decorations and activities start even before that), and it's just so colourful and unique. Which is why I need to write two posts about it, I couldn't stop taking photos of all we saw! I should add, though, that this is about Day of the Dead in Mexico City, as different cities, towns and regions of Mexico have their own specific traditions as well, ok?

November 1st – All Souls' Day

So, November 1st we did a whole tour. First around the Alameda Central, where we saw some nice Catrinas (elegantly dressed female representations of Death) courtesy of the National Lottery and, ironically, from one of the bigger funeral homes! LOL

Then we arrived by the Templo de San Hipólito, where there was a huge Saint Jude Thaddaeus celebration going on as well. Some people were performing pre-Hispanic-inspired dances. I usually don't pay much attention to these when done as a tourist attraction, but this was so different – this was connected to the Day of the Dead, to native ancestry, to Catholic saints... It was mesmerizing to watch and hear. Wow.

The church had a massive crowd all around and getting inside. Saint Jude Thaddaeus is the saint for difficult situations and, as it happens, people who are in trouble with the law (from petty stuff to more gruesome crimes) often come here to ask help from the saint. Since we were more into looking at Day of the Dead celebrations, we didn't go in, though it would've been fascinating!

Then we headed along Paseo de la Reforma to the Ángel de la Independencia. It looked fantastic with the base covered in beautiful yellow cempasúchil (Marigold). I prefer the Nahuatl-derived name. It comes from cempōhualxōchitl, or flower of twenty (twenty having a symbolic meaning, so more like "flower of many flowers"). In fact, part of the meridian of the avenue was also covered in cempasúchil.

Later on, we decided to go have a look at the Zócalo, the centre and main square of the city. Whoa! It looked amazing! Papel picado (perforated paper with motifs of the Day of the Dead), monumental ofrendas (offerings to the departed, which usually include the food they used to like), skeleton-inspired sculptures of xoloitzcuintles (a breed of Mexican hairless dog)...

Skeletons representing both the victims and the relief teams of the September earthquakes, street organ players with skull-like make-up, a tree of life with skulls...

Our last stop that day? On the way back from the Zócalo we passed by the Atrio de San Francisco (Saint Francis' Atrium), with more Day of the Dead decorations and activities. Gorgeous.

We finished our tour of the city with a beer at a local brewery. They had put cempasúchil flowers in a beer bottle. So very appropriate.

But this was just November 1st. November 2nd was incredible as well! But that's my next post.

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