Inside the two Isla Mujeres cemeteries freshly cleaned and painted tombs are adorned with bright flowers, plus flickering candles, favourite foods, personal possessions, and photographs.
It’s time to celebrate, to share a graveside meal, and to remember the departed.
The Day of the Dead (People) begins on October 31st. It includes November 1st, the Day of the Dead for children and November 2nd the Day of the Dead for adults. Hanal Pixán, as the Mayas call it, translates as ‘food of the souls’. It is a 3000 year-old Mayan tradition that was integrated into the Catholic Church rituals as the La Día de los Muertos in the mid 1500’s.
|San Miguel de Allende|
La Día de los Muertos is normally a private family celebration, but more recently it has become a public event drawing a huge number of visitors to nearby Mérida and other cities such as San Miguel de Allende.
A Facebook friend recently asked if there were any activities planned on Isla for the Día de los Muertos. I had to reply “I don’t know.” City organized events tend to be advertised very last minute, so maybe or maybe not.
Although last year for the first time the Jean Piaget private school sponsored a silent parade, the Festival de los Animas. It was fascinating to see the students and public figures beautifully dressed as dignified dead people.
They silently walked the length of the busy Hidalgo Avenue past bustling restaurants and bars, culminating at the Casa de Cultura with a public display of altars or ofrendas.
|Festival de las Animas|
We put up an altar at our house in remembrance of our parents; Lawrie’s and his sister Linda’s, brother-in-law Richard Grierson’s, plus my parents.
A few years ago we had a neighbourhood gathering to celebrate our friends’ parents as well. The years have flown past so quickly and now many of us unfortunately find ourselves representing the oldest generation in our families.
|One of our 'ofrendas' - the food was added later|
There are no set in stone rules for building a La Día de los Muertos altar, but it should at least incorporate the basics. If you can, include an archway to represent the passage between life and death. The archway can be made of something light and flexible and covered with flowers.
Then add candles to light the way. Marigold flowers, to attract the souls of your loved-ones. A glass of water to quench the thirst of the spirits (although beer or tequila seems to be an acceptable option). A few personal trinkets, toys and chocolate for children plus photos of the people you are honoring. If you live in Mexico don’t forget to include the pan de Muertos a special bread available at most grocery stories and bakeries at this time of the year. Add other favourite foods to feed the hungry souls, and burn incense to chase away bad spirits.
|Yani Medina - traditional Mayan meal for the celebration.|
The altars are traditionally set up in three levels by using a series of empty boxes and crates covered over with a large table cloth or material. The number of levels depends on the personal beliefs of the altar designer. Two levels might symbolize heaven and earth, while three would represent heaven, purgatory and earth. Some altars include seven levels to represent the seven steps to Heaven.
Whatever your personal beliefs the basic idea is to create display that celebrates your loved ones.
Until next week,
Cheers from paradise
Lynda & Lawrie
Now available in paperback on Amazon!
By CA reviews on September 26, 2017
Yasmin and Jessica are back and the gold they found in Treasure Isla is still haunting them, especially when Carlos, their boss at the Loco Lobo, and Yasmin’s new lover, is kidnapped. No spoilers here, but his captivity and the girls’ efforts to free him, with the help of Carlos’s pals—including local Isla Mujeres fishermen and a Mexico City cop—are the crux of this fast-paced story. Lock has created not only a compelling and authentic setting, but a well-developed ensemble cast. The next Isla mystery can’t come fast enough.