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Day of the Dead, a celebration of life!

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Every year at the end of October and beginning of November, two close but totally different festivities are celebrated, it is true that both might look alike, but they couldn’t be more different from each other. In the US, October 31st is synonymous of candy, costumes, party and horror stories with the Halloween. Here in Mexico, November 2nd is one of the most ancients and colorful traditions in our history: Día de Muertos. 

Día de Muertos is a Mexican celebration with pre-hispanic origins. The celebrations start with  Dia de todos los Santos (All Saints Day) on November 1st, a day dedicated to those souls who died as children, together with saints. It concludes on November 2nd, with the actual Day of the Dead.

The Day of the Dead was celebrated in Mexico even before the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Today, this is a Christian celebration that combines the pre-Hispanic culture with the Catholic religion, allowing the Mexicans to keep alive its oldest traditions. It mixes the contrasting feelings of the pain of loss in loosing a loved one with a colorful celebration of their life lived.

This celebration is full of traditions: people generally go to the cemeteries and bring flowers (marigolds being  the most popular, known as flower of death). Many of the family members congregate around the family’s gravestones the night of the 1st and build altars honoring the departed, which include their favorite foods and drink, belongings, pictures of the person while he was alive, water for the long trip, candles to illuminate their way, a crucifix and incense of “copal” that symbolizes the passing from life to afterlife. All this decorated with colorful papel picado, marigold flowers, “bread of the dead” and little sugar skulls. They believe that these altars help their dead relatives to have a good trip during their time departed. Other families – rather than going to the cemetery – prepare these altars at home including some or all of the items mentioned above.

An altar can be complex and a true piece of art, there are many elements that must be included as:

  • Picture of departed relative
  • Cempasuchil Flowers 
  • Chiseled Paper 
  • Day of the Dead Bread or pan de muerto
  • Candy Skulls 
  • Favorite dishes of deceased loved ones
  • Spirited Drinks
  • Candles
  • Religious Elements 
  • Water
  • Copal
  • Salt
  • Personal Objects of departed relative
  • Ornaments

An altar can be built by anyone, you don’t need to be Mexican or Catholic to do it, this is a beautiful tradition that for many people represents the opportunity of feeling closer to those who are no longer with us. If you have never built one, this year you can start a new tradition at home, start with a simple altar including the Picture of your loved one, some flowers and candles, the idea is to remember that person with joy and not with sadness, so don’t forget to include bright colors.

For those who would like to admire a live altar, Kupuri Beach Club is setting up one dedicated to Mr. Gibello and Mr. Antonoff, as well as to Leo, a staff member who served many years to Punta Mita. Make sure you stop by on Friday, November 2nd, and if you can visit them around 4pm, would be even better since they’ll share some Pan de Muerto with the attendees.

Also PEACE Punta de Mita is preparing an Altar to remember Erick López and Alonso Andrade (Nano), two dear young community members who recently left us. This altar will be set up on Thursday, November 1st at 6pm, in the All Saints Day at the PEACE Community Center.

To learn more about this tradition visit: http://livepuntamita.com/a-celebration-to-honor-the-dead/

*Featured Photo by fer gomez on Unsplash