THE DAY OF THE
DEAD - Puebla, Mexico, 2006
The Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican a festival
celebrating the reunion of dead relatives with their families. It is
celebrated yearly on November 1st (All Saints Day) and 2nd (All Souls
An ancient pre-Contact belief that ran thru numerous Mexican cultural
groups was that the dead return every year to visit their relatives.
They eat, drink, and are merry, just as when they were alive.
Families visit their deceased relatives’ graves, sweep them, and have
picnics there. Some even spend the night. On All Soul’s Day, they are
honored by having their favorite foods and drinks set out. The graves
are adorned with marigolds and candles which are supposed to guide the
In Puebla, probably the most religious city I have ever been in in
Mexico, the Candy Street is filled with stores that sell pan de muerto
(special coffee cake decorated to look like bones), skull-shaped sugar
candies in horrific pinks, greens and yellows, altars with your name on
them, and pictures of the saints, marzipan death figures, and all sorts
of other skeletally-related sweets. None of them taste very good, in my
opinion. I wanted to buy samples of the sugar altars but was worried I
couldn’t bring them thru customs, so I didn’t. :(
There are altars set up in all the municipal buildings in Puebla, as
well as in the zocalo (town square), restaurants, and even the flea
market! In the zocalo, there are also chalk drawings of Aztec figures,
a band stand where local celebrities perform, a circus with acrobats
and motorcyclists, and balloon sellers.
I have never seen Day of the Dead altars with political messages
before, nor have I ever seen ones set up to remember certain groups of
people not related by blood to the people setting up the altars.
However, in Puebla, these were common.
The more I thought about it, the more the altars dedicated to, say,
miners who had died, or orphans, or Frida Kahlo, were like how we honor
the memory of vets. on Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day (i.e., thinking
about those who gave their lives for the country, even if we’re not
related by blood).
Anyhow, in Puebla, it is quite a festival! We sat around the zocalo,
drinking cervecas and people-watching for hours.
This altar commemorated miners who had
This one commemorates martyrs.
Market where you can buy Day of the Dead things to decorate the graves
or altars, plus an altar made by the stall owner.
This one was made for Frida Kahlo.