Around the world, November 1st and 2nd comes alive with remembrances of the dearly departed, but nowhere as vibrantly as Mexico, and more specifically Oaxaca. On The Day of the Dead skeletal brides and grooms, bright yellow marigold bouquets, black veils and gowns, costumes morbid and colorful, all come out to commune with beloved souls laid to rest one more time.
World Nomads describes the ritual:
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In a belief system inherited from the Aztecs, Mexicans believe their dead are lurking in Mictlan, a kind of spiritual waiting room, and they can return to their homes at this time of year. Families thus begin preparations to help the spirits find their way home and to make them welcome, starting with an arch made of bright yellow marigolds – a symbolic doorway from the underworld. An altar is erected and piled high with offerings to the invisible visitors: flowers, ribbons, colored candles, tamales (steam-cooked corn-meal dough), fruit and corn. Two important additions are a container of water, because the spirits arrive thirsty after their journey, and pan de muertos (bread of the dead). The loaf is made with egg yolks, fruits and tequila or mezcal, and is adorned with, or shaped as, a symbol of death.
The celebration lasts days, but after the sun goes down another phase of Dia de los Muertos begins – festivities coalescing into a solemn procession through the city streets complete with dancing, music and of course costumes.
So find a place celebrating the Day of the Dead tonight, paint you face, drape yourself in black and flowers, find a trombone or drum to play and practice your most sacred dirge. Tonight lead your beloved relatives back from the grave and celebrate their passing as their souls reanimate for the party in the streets.
Photo credit: DavidDennisPhotos.com