Lake Chapala Cemeteries Come Alive with People !
November 3, 2010
Chapala cemeteries will soon be alive with people.
No, as far as I know the rapture is not going to happen then, but a day is set aside each year to honor the dead here in Mexico.
It’s not morbid at all, but a practical way to deal with the loss of loved ones.
Dia de los Muertos translates “Day of the Dead” and is also referred to as “All Souls Day”
During the last days of October, most all families here go to the final resting places of loved ones to clean up grave sites, place flowers and in general spruce up the area.
In addition, preparations are made for the family gathering to take place a few days later with graveside celebrations commemorating the life of the departed loved ones.
The final decorative touches are added the first two days of November.
November 1stis called “Dia de Todos los Santos(All Saints Day) and is devoted to remembering Angelitos – the “little angels” who died in infancy.
Their graves are adorned with wreaths, crosses, ribbons and flowers. Some with less money may use reeds picked from the lake, and or colored crepe paper streamers fashioned into various deigns.
Candy and toys are sometimes left and almost always long-burning candles are set out.
For those who died after childhood November 2nd is the day for a family outing to the Panteon (cemetery) that often lasts all day and into the night even when it’s hard to say goodbye.
Local priests also arrive for on-site celebrations of memorial mass.
It’s a bitter sweet time and can become quite a celebration at with plenty of food and drink, songs, music and even live bands.
A typical Day of the Dead culinary treat is called “pan de muerto” (dead man’s bread), calabaza en tacha (pumpkin slices stewed in brown sugar syrup) and grinning calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) inscribed across the forehead with common names like Jose, Jesus and Maria.
The idea of these celebrations seem unusual to say the least, to foreign newcomers, but those of us more familiar with Mexican culture recognize the local custom of tomb-side picnicking as a fitting tribute to departed loved ones.
In my home my Mexican wife sets out a special table with photos of departed loved ones and decorations of ribbons and flowers and of course the long burning candles which burn all night long during the days of celebration.
So, now you know the story of how Mexican cemeteries at least a few days each year are alive with people.
Hope you enjoyed this little taste of a different culture. The local customs, traditions, and celebrations of the Mexican people coupled with those of North America like Thanksgiving and those we share like Christmas all combine to give us many wonderful times to celebrate our rich interesting life here at Lake Chapala.
If you’d like to discover more about living at Lake Chapala just think of me as your Lake Chapala Information Guy.
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Siempre tu amigo,