The celebration of “El Dia de Los Muertos,” or ‘Day of the Dead’ is a long respected tradition throughout Mexico to honor those who have passed on recently, and those that have departed this world long ago. During the first 2 days of November, family members and loved ones converge on the three cemeteries located in Puerto Penasco, and begin decorating the graves in vibrant colors, and placing memorials atop the monuments and markers. Preparations for the celebration began early this week, with workers and family members arriving days before the event to begin cleaning, weeding and sprucing up the cemetery, and caring for the graves of their loved ones.
Puerto Peñasco mayor Professor Gerardo Figueroa Zazueta greets city workers on Tuesday who have arrived at the Panteon Municipal #1 to prepare the cemetery for “El Dia de Los Muertos” celebration.
As the evening of November 2nd approaches, some family members compose ¨Calaveras” which are funny poems and lyrics about the dead and the living. They bake “pan de muerto” and breads shaped into skulls, as well as other foods their loved ones had previously enjoyed. The graves are adorned with photographs of their friends and family, as they appeared in life. Family members often remain at the graveside for hours and even late into night. Some will remain until dawn the next day.
The “Pan de Muerto” is prepared to resemble crossed bones across the top, a staple of “El Dia de los Muertos.”
The celebration of “El Dia de los Muertos” dates back centuries in Mexico, but it is also a tradition marked in many U.S. border communities. Coastal areas such as San Carlos, San Felipe and Barra de Navidad also take part in the celebration. In major cities in the US, the tradition is also gaining popularity, as a way of both honoring departed loved ones and sharing a colorful, cultural tradition steeped in history.
The famous Mexican writer and poet, Octavio Paz once observed that death is a subject all too familiar to people in his country. “The Mexican” he wrote, “jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, and celebrates it. True, there is as much fear in his attitude as in that of others, but at least death is not hidden away: he looks at it face to face, with impatience, disdain or irony.” The celebration gives Mexicans the opportunity to take a humorous look at mortality, while also honoring the memories of departed loved ones in an observance that brings them to grave sites of family members and friends who have passed away.
Some of the memorials and decorations created for “El Dia de los Muertos.”
While somber and celebratory at the same time, “El Dia de Los Muertos” is a tradition that welcomes all to participate, regardless of belief or background. The celebration provides an opportunity for people of all walks of life to share an ancient culture and rite, while paying their respects, honoring and remembering their loved ones who have since passed on and celebrating the life they have lived.
Steve Schwab is the CEO of Sea Side Reservations: Sea Side Reservations focuses on providing high quality accommodations and vacation rental homes in Barra de Navidad, San Carlos, Rocky Point and a variety of areas in Mexico. Steve has lived and worked in Mexico for the past 10 years, promoting travel and tourism and sharing his unique experiences living and working in Mexico.