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The Day of the Dead a Mexican Tradition

 Rosarito Beach Hotel
celebrates a Mexican tradition


 Dia de Los Muertos ...The Mexican Day of the Dead

The festive period begins on the night of October 31 and continues through All Saints Day and All Souls Day, celebrated November 1st and 2nd respectively. On the night of October 31st, in rituals that recall the ancestors worship of their Indian forefathers, many Mexican families erect altars to the dead in their homes. Included in these altars are ofrendas, offerings of the favorite foods and drinks of the departed, to be enjoyed by their spirits when they return to visit their loved ones. The altar is laden with bright orange marigolds (the zempoalxochitl, flower of the dead) and lighted with a multitude of candles. Traditionally, the altar is lighted on the 31st to await the arrival of the dead children, los angelitos. At twilight on November 1st until dawn of the 2nd, the altar is again lighted and this time the vigil is for the departed adults.


This is a time of happy communion with the dead, not a time of sorrow. Nobel Prize winner, Octavio Paz, in his essay, “The Labyrinth of Solitude” explores the Mexican fascination with the duality of life and death.

“Our relations with death are intimate”, Paz writes, “more intimate perhaps than those of any other people.” He further described this almost ghoulish celebration as an escape from the difficulties of every day existence – not only the poverty, but also a kind of blackness in the soul which perhaps has its roots in the joining of two antagonistic groups, the Indian and the Spanish. Whatever the reason, this Mexican fiesta is a full-blooded affair, colorful, highly emotional and it lasts for days.

On Dia de Los Angelitos, “Day of the little Angels”, the souls of the little children are said to return home. They find an abundance of candies, cookies, milk and honey and other favorite foods awaiting them. Nearby toys are placed fro them to play with after they finish eating.

The following night, November 1st, is for the returning adult souls. They are greeted with more abundant fare; turkey with mole (chocolate and chile sauce), chayote a potato like vegetable and pan de muertos, bread shaped in the forms of skulls and skeletons.

Additionally, tequila, pulque, or other local fermented drink is available in abundance.

Friends and family usually celebrate both nights, often talking with the departed ones in a very convincing manner. They rarely partake of the food prepared for the spirits, but later give it to friends or less fortunate neighbors. In rural Mexico it is not uncommon for the local curandero ( healer or wise man) to say a mass for the recent dead. This is followed by great amounts of tequila, tamales for the living, and a night of dancing, song and bonfires.




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