Day of the Dead

Please do not confuse this with the over commercialized celebration of Halloween which has spread from the USA over much of the Western World. This is a Mexican festival to honor and celebrate the lives of those who have departed.

Día de Muertos was traditionally a three-day festival from October 31 to November 2 in which the living communed with the spirits of the dead and families remembered their loved ones. This involved graveyard vigils, decorating graves and altars with offerings of food, drink and flowers.

3People take part in the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City.  Photograph: Victor Cruz/AFP/Getty Images

2People dressed as skeletons and the Mexican popular character Catrina join in the Day of the Dead. Photograph: Mario Guzman/EPA

1Photograph: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Since 2016 this festival grown much bigger nationwide but perhaps the most famous event is the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. This parade is said to have been inspired by a scene from the James Bond movie Spectre.
In 2018 the Mexico City Parade was held in memory of all those who had died attempting to transit into the USA.

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.34.45.pngPhotograph: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.34.52Photograph: Mario Guzman/EPA

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.34.58Photograph: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Paraders paint their faces with the boney features of La Calavera Catrina, the elegant female skeleton once used to mock the rich Mexicans who aspired to be Europeans but is increasingly seen as the personification of the Day of the Dead. La Catrina and the essence of her story goes deep into Mexican traditions and roots but has been restyled only in the last century. She proves that ”Death is Democratic” and comes to us all whatever our background, skin colour or wealth. In the end we will all be just bones and our fancy clothes and material wealth of little significance.

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.37.34.pngPhotograph: Carlos Tischler/Rex/Shutterstock

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.37.39Photograph: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.37.44Photograph: Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

The Aztecs worshiped a  goddess of dead who they believed protected their departed loved ones, helping them into the after life. Mexicans historically have always had a culture which honors and celebrates the dead and the contribution that they have made while they have been alive. Familiar symbols of the event are skeletons, sugar skulls, altars, and the colourful cut-paper streamers.

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.39.47.pngPhotograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.39.53.pngPhotograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.39.58Photograph: Mario Guzman/EPA

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.40.04Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.40.11A couple dressed up as Catrina and Catrin
Photograph: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 22.40.17Photograph: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

All images and information taken with thanks from The Guardian Newspaper reviews of the Mexico City Day of the Dead parade in 2017 and 2018.

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