November 2nd: The Day of the Dead Celebrations in Ajijic
The Day of the Dead is one of the biggest holidays in Mexico, especially in Ajijic and Chapala. It lasts for several days with lots of firecrackers going off day and night, parties, food, parades, and decorations. It is a time when Mexican families get together and communicate with their deceased loved ones. The cemeteries are cleaned up. Each family takes on the responsibility of sweeping and cleaning the grave or graves of their loved ones. Huge wreaths of bright colors are bought and placed on the graves. For two nights the cemeteries are open for celebrations and parties. Altars are also made in honor of the deceased loved family members.
The altars contain photos of the deceased, articles of clothing he or she loved, favorite foods and things he or she liked to do when alive. You can see that in the photo above there is a guitar, and a cowboy hat and rope. Also there are paper bulls. This man must have been a cowboy. Don’t forget the bottles of alcohol also there.
The altars featured in this article were all displayed on the 2nd of November in Chapala. A few blocks of the street were closed off to traffic. Many people were there, enjoying the beautiful sunny day. There were candles on the altars and lights were also set up. It would continue on into the night. I didn’t stay that long. I noticed that many young people were enjoying the scene. They made some of the altars and many of them were devoted to famous people.
The altars also have a washing area for the visiting deceased with a towel, soap and even a mirror.
After the deceased cleans up, his or her favorite food is also on the altar. Dinner is served.
Skeletons are everywhere, life sized skeletons dolls and people dressed up like skeletons.
Some of the people walking the streets and manning the altars were also made up like skulls. I can imagine these people may have been scary after it got dark.
The Day of the Dead is a time when life meets death and they celebrate together. Families are reunited with their dead loved ones. People remember the past and enjoy the present.
One stand was selling a special bread that is only made during the Day of the Dead. It is put on the altars for the dead to enjoy and it is delicious. They let people who are still alive eat it too.
The Altars are also decorated with paper cut out designs and Marigolds are everywhere. Marigolds are the flowers that represent the Day of the Dead. People also decorate the area in front of the alters with marigolds. Some of these decorations become quite complex.
I didn’t get to the night celebrations at the local cemetery. My friend who went with me to see these altars said to me, “There is always next year.” Yes, next year…….. Hopefully I will still be on this side of that great dividing line between life and death and I will visit the grave yard and celebrate my loved ones and my gift of another year of living.