Friday, November 9, 2012

Día de los Muertos

On November 1st and 2nd we celebrated Día de los Muertos here in Cuernavaca.  My family was out of town for a wedding, so I was hanging out with Colleen all weekend. 

Thursday night we headed to Ocotepec, which is a community in Cuernavaca.  It's one of the few communities where homes are open to the public for Día de los Muertos.  Every family that has lost someone in the past year creates an ofrenda in their home.  People are invited to view the ofrenda/altar and eat the provided food.  Colleen and I arrived as dusk was falling, and immediately bought some candles, as it's tradition to give a candle to each family; it's a kind of exchange, with visitors giving candles and receiving food and drinks in return. 

We then met up with Andrea and her family at the church in Ocotepec, before heading out to visit homes.  At each house we waited to enter, then viewed the altars set up for the deceased family members.  Each altar included some sort of physical representation of the person being remembered, usually with photos and some of their old clothing.  Around that, all sorts of food and other items for the dead to use.  These included: bread, tamales, piles of fruit, tools, dishes, photos, cigarettes, marigolds, items shaped like skulls, etc.  After saying hello to the families, either Colleen or I handed them a candle (then put into a box, I have no idea what they are used for!), and then headed for the food!  I ate a taco, a tamale, several pan dulces and pan de muertos, and drank many cups of hot punch (kind of like apple cider, but with different fruits).

Friday morning Colleen and I headed to Jardin Borda, a giant private garden in the Centro.  From Thursday through Sunday entrance was free, there were several large ofrendas throughout the garden, artisans selling their wares, and lots of decorated catrinas, or skeleton ladies.  We wandered the park taking pictures and just taking in the atmosphere. 

catrinas at Jardin Borda

some of the ofrendas

I think this one is for Frida Kahlo

marigolds are everywhere on Día de los Muertos

Many families go to the cemetery on Nov. 2 to decorate the family graves and eat food, but I didn't know anyone who was doing that.  Día de los Muertos is a way to celebrate and remember your ancestors, as the dead come back to wander the earth.  It's a way of engaging with our own mortality while remembering those who we were close to.

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