Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day of the Dead | 18

(photos taken: November 1, 2014)

DISCLAIMER: Last night I wasn't able to post anything. I had an annoying headache, it got worse just by looking at the screen. My fault.

Coming from a Mexican background, I feel proud to be part of this culture that celebrates the dead in a beautiful way. I would love to spend the day in Mexico, just to see how they celebrate it. I've heard stories from my parents, and I've seen videos, but I want to actually experience it. 

The day is celebrated on November 1st for Los Angelitos, all the children who have passed away, and November 2nd is for everyone who's passed. Mexico celebrates big. Cemeteries are cleaned and altars are made. Altars have photos of the person who has passed away, their favorite food, snacks, drinks, toys (for the children), basically anything that the person enjoyed. The altars are also filled with flores de muerto, which is a bright orange yellowish flower, it's petals spread around. Sugar skulls are also placed, along with pan de muerto, and blankets and pillows so the dead can rest throughout their journey. People bring bandas or mariachis to the cemeteries, it's a day to remember those who are no longer here, and feel as if they are sitting there with you. 

People also make altars in their house, like we do. And ever since I was a kid I always found it fascinating, but I was a bit frightened when I learned what it was. The way I would see everything placed, I thought I would see a ghost coming into our house and eating the food, drinking, being there. Until my mum explained what it meant. There's a belief that the dead "consume" the food, so even if you eat it, the food won't have any flavor. Don't ask me, I've never tried it!

People also celebrate by doing a dance with shells around their ankles and hands, the shells or the sound you hear is supposed to wake up the dead. The dancers usually paint their face as calaveras. Another tradition is similar to trick-or-treating. Kids dress up, usually as the dead, and go door to door or ask anyone passing by for a "calaverita" (this can either be candy or money). And of course many prayers are said and candles are lit, respecting the dead.  

It's kind of our tradition, aside from making altars at home, to go to La Placita Olvera on these days. Or prior for the novenario. Grand Park also recently started to place altars throughout the park. At La Placita you will be able to pray, you will be able to walk around with a big group who are there for the same reason, walk around the little shops. There are many altars which you can actually put up, or you can just see the ones that are up. Examples of the altars there consist of children who have passed away, immigrants who lose their lives coming to the U.S, families, Las Mujeres de Juarez, which if you don't know the story you should look it up. It's women who have been missing for years now and they are never found, or they are found dead, and treated in horrible circumstances. And some altars are also for dogs, cats, any pets! You stick around for the dance which is quite entertaining, if you're lucky they will pull you to dance with them. And be careful because La Llorona is always around creeping up behind people, and before you know it she's screaming "Ayyy mis hijos" in your ear! It's pretty funny seeing people get scared, when it's not you! And at the end you can probably get conchas and champurrado!

It's a great holiday, something really meaningful behind the whole thing! And if you haven't experienced something like those activities I mentioned, you should definitely check them out! One of my favorite "muertos" from La Placita is a bride and the groom, dressed up for the wedding, very elegant, but of course with their faces painted like calaveras, or a mask. There's also little kids dressed up as them, a lady who holds her dead baby *not an actual dead baby* in her arms, and of course the loud La Llorona just waiting to scare people! I remember when I was probably 8, I was invited by one of them to go on stage and dance. Obviously you don't need to know how to dance, it's just to have a good time! And you can take pictures with them as well. Ohh wait, I remember last year we went there was a new addition, it was a muerto dressed as a high school (maybe college who knows) graduate. It gave me the chills, but I guess that's the point of involving different characters because you don't need to be old to die. I see this country every year is slowly starting to celebrate it more. You see sugar skulls and other related things in stores, when years ago you wouldn't see as much. I don't know why my mum claims I don't like to go, I do enjoy it. And since it is coming up, I recommend you guys check it out! 

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