DEATH DAY, A TWO DAY AFFAIR IN MEXICO
Every November first and second in Mexico, people gather in cemeteries and various burial grounds to remember and honor their dearly departed family members. Apparently the heaven opens on November 1st and 2nd and the souls of the dead are reachable from the boundaries of earth. Day of the Dead has become one of the most important celebrations and is a uniquely Mexican understanding of death.
OFFERINGS OF FOOD, CLOTHES, AND TOYS ARE JUST WHAT THE DEAD NEED
Relatives offer drinks, food and even toys and gifts on tables and mantles in hopes of having the souls down for a visit. The living believe that they can share the meals together. Families in Mexico will spend November 1 remembering the deceased children, and on November 2, they will celebrate the All Souls day, dedicated to the adults who have died. During the celebration, graves are decorated and most will visit the cemeteries or burial places where their loved ones are. The place is traditionally decorated with Marigold flowers, which are believed to lead spirits back home from the cemetery.
SKULLS REPRESENT LIFE IN NOVEMBER, IN SHAPE OF FOOD, ART AND DEATH, OFTEN GIVEN AS GIFTS TO THE LIVING AND DEAD
The most used symbol during the Day of the Dead is of the skull, which represents the cyclicality of life as we understand it. Foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls can be given as gifts to both the living and the dead. Pan de Muerto is also really popular, and is a bread made in different shapes, often decorated with white frosting to represent the image of twisted bones. The festivity is a national holiday in Mexico, but it is also celebrated in Brazil and Spain.
Octavio Paz, one of Mexico’s most famous writers, noted: “The Mexican … is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, and celebrates with it. He thinks of it as his favorite plaything and his most lasting love.” “At least death is not hidden away: he looks at it face to face, with impatience, disdain or irony,” he wrote.