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Day of the Dead in Chapala 2016

The Day of the Dead would more honesty be named The Days of the Dead because it goes on for several days, maybe weeks if you count all the fireworks that go off day and night for a week before and a week after this holiday. It is one of the biggest holidays of the year and if you ever get a chance to visit Mexico, don’t miss it. Children go out trick or treating on the 31st of October. November 1st is the day for altars of the children who have died and November 2nd is the day for altars of adults who have died. And there are the nights where people party at the graves of their loved ones.

Catrina

I like to visit Chapala when the high school kids are putting up altars for the dead. I talked with one of the mothers and she said that they take it very  seriously. Death is a long way off for most of these kids but I did see some of them having fun with it. Dressed in costumes and dancing with each other. Thumbing their noses at DEATH.

Altar

The photo above is of a young woman dressed as a Catrina doll. Most of the altars they make are for famous people who have passed away. Frida Kahlo was one of the most famous altars and also of the Catrina dolls. Diego Rivera seems to have been forgotten. He was more famous in life but history makes it’s own choices. She prevailed! There were so many things going on at once that I missed most of them. I can only show you a small portion of what I managed to visit.

Altar
Altar

All of the altars have below and in front of them various symbols made out of colored sawdust, or candles. Many of them are more elaborate than the Altars themselves. Another decoration on the bottom of the Altars and on the altars themselves is the marigold flower. Marigolds are everywhere. Their smell is said to attract the spirits.

Above is another example of an altar filled with marigolds, skulls, candles, crosses, and of course a Catrina doll. The life story of the person who is honored in the Altars is often written near it and their photos are on the altars, along with their favorite food, drink and clothes.

Altar
Altar

There were at least two altars that were done up inside of empty buildings. They were guarded to make sure that no one destroyed them. Unfortunately, I did not see the name of the woman in the above photo but she must have been of great importance to the community to have such an elaborate altar. I notice several rebozos on each side of the altar. Maybe they had something to do with her life’s work.

Catrina
Catrina

Another Frida Kahlo…. And they are all so different and imaginative.

Catrina
Catrina

There were several large size Catrina dolls along the sidewalk. Several were named Frida Kahlo. You can see in the above photo that she has a baby in her arms. That is a new twist to me.Or maybe it is a monkey?

cimg3336-1

And yet another Frida Kahlo. This one has scary eyes.

Catrina
Catrina

The woman in the above photo seems to be enjoying the man in a boat. He looks like a Mariachi singer.

Altar
Altar

The above altar has a beautiful design and candles on the sawdust. Check out the shoes. Most likely his favorite shoes and favorite hat on the altar with his favorite jeans.

Altar

One of the most interesting parts of visiting the altars is watching the young people work and seeing them in costumes.

Day of the Dead Bread
Day of the Dead Bread

The Day of the Dead Bread is delicious. But it is only made during this time of the year. Many of the altars have this bread on them for the dead because it is so good.

People in Costumes
People in Costumes

Above is a photo of more people in costumes…..  Check out that hat…..

Altar
Altar

I enjoyed seeing the above altar.They took a lot of time stringing marigold flowers up above it and hanging down onto it. Plus there are some beautiful hand made flowers to the lower left of the photo.

Altar

Soap and dish
Soap and dish

It was early in the afternoon when I took the above photo. I am sure by evening that bowl would have been filled with water. People leave soap and water on the altars so the dead can wash up before eating their favorite foods that are left for them. Also there are mirrors so they can see themselves.

Food and water
Food and water

The food and drink that is displayed on the altars is the favorite of the person who is expected to visit later in the evening .

Street scene
Street Scene.

I did not get any photos of the graveyards and all the celebrations that went on there. I did not get any photos of the parades. I didn’t get any photos of all the decorations in other nearby towns. And I don’t know what else that I missed. I am only one person with a limited amount of energy and no car. But if you come down, don’t be surprised at all the interesting things that are happening everyday for a couple of weeks during the Day of the Dead. Or as I like to say the Days of the Dead.

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Writer Evelyn

I am a single retired woman living in Ajijic Mexico. I participate in writing informative articles about the Lake Chapala area for AccessLakeChapala.com and hope my posts can give you an idea of what to expect when you visit the area.

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