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Halloween or "Día de Muertos" (Day of the death)
"Los Dias de los Muertos", the Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican religious holiday honoring the dead. It is celebrated every year at the same time as Halloween and the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day (November 1st and 2nd). Los Dias de los Muertos is not a sad time, but instead a time of remembering and rejoicing.
In Ajijic the mixture of cultures takes us to decoration and celebrations of mixed new and traditional style.
The townspeople dress up as ghouls, ghosts, mummies and skeletons and parade through the town carrying an open coffin.
But at the same time children dress up Halloween style, ask for candy and enjoy the "gringo" culture.
The "corpse" within smiles as it is carried through the narrow streets of town. The local vendors toss oranges inside as the procession makes its way past their markets.
Lucky "corpses" can also catch flowers, fruits, and candies.
Foreigners enjoy the parade along with native citizens respectfully and sometimes they even make their own altars at home.
Ofrenda or altar In the homes families arrange ofrenda's or "altars" with flowers, bread, fruit and candy. Pictures of the deceased family members are added. In the late afternoon special all night burning candles are lit - it is time to remember the departed - the old ones.
Sometimes altars are made to long ago pass away's, a beautiful tradition to keep them in our hearts.
During the night the families travel to the cemetery. They carry flowers, candles, blankets, and picnic baskets, recently Halloween style decoration has been added. They have come to clean the graves of their loved ones. The grave sites are weeded and the dirt raked smooth. The Crypts are scrubbed and swept. Colorful flowers, bread, fruit, candles, toys for children graves or things they think the death loved or liked are placed on the graves. Some bring guitars and radios to listen to. Some families will spend the entire night in the cemeteries.
The cemetery will be full of foreign citizens taking pictures or enjoying the night along with locals, sharing a drink or meal is not uncommon.
Once you become an expert in Mexico you will like to visit Oaxaca or Michoacan's Patzcuaro lake to get a real amazing taste of Mexican day of the death.
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