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Día de Muertos
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-11-02 21:13:50 | Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Keywords: Dead, Traditions
Officially on November 2nd, but spanning generally from November 1st to the 3rd or 4th (depending on the location), the Mexicans celebrate the Día de muertos (Day of the dead), during which they celebrate the lost members of their family. They honour their memory in many ways: in various locations they will build little or large offering tables to honour their loved ones, they will also visit them at the cemetery of course to put fresh flowers and much more. In many places, you will also see caterinas which are sculptures of dead women dressed very nicely and decorations above the streets.

In the cemeteries (called 'panteons' here) are very much frequented on those days... with families visiting their loved ones. Of course, they bring fresh flowers... usually placing yellow flowers (mostly tagetes erecta or Mexican marigold) in shape of a cross on top of the tomb. People also deposit offerings on the tomb to the deceased as they gather around it to pray... usually they are small objects from the daily life, candles of course (mostly in shape of skull) but also food (from the traditional sweet bread of the dead to wrapped commercial candies) or beverages (I've seen bottles of Coke and of tequila).

On many occasions, there are religious services throughout the day to collectively honor the dead people. Most families use the visit to also clean the tomb and sometimes they repair it with fresh cement. You can find all your need to perform those tasks in and around the cemetery. If you want, there are tomb washers on site... who will clean the tomb with water and soap, sometimes with javel... and you simply tip them. You can also hire mariachis to play music and sing songs for your loved ones. There are many mariachis groups on site, some walking around waiting to be hired. The current rates are about 50 pesos (around US$4) for one song, and 100 pesos for 3 songs.

The celebrations around for the dead began before the Spaniards arrived and is celebrated mostly in Mexico and in a few countries of Central America. In 2003, the UNESCO declared the celebrations of the Día de Muertos part of the Immaterial World Heritage (a similar list to the sites I'm visiting, but for things that are not tangible).

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