Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead)

While the Mexicans are beginning to celebrate Halloween, the Day of the Dead (November 2) is much more a part of their culture.  It is a day for remembering loved ones that have died, but not in sorrow, rather in gratitude and even in humor.

Having heard about this holiday for many years, Charlie and I wanted to see first-hand how this day is celebrated south of the border.  To find out, first, we went to Plaza de Armas, one of the most beautiful squares in Querétaro, to see the altar that had been built to the Corregidora, the wife of the mayor of Querétaro who warned the conspirators of the independence movement in 1810 that their plan had been uncovered.  She is a revered figure here in Querétaro, and the locals had built this altar in her honor.  You’re probably wondering what an “altar” looks like.  We’ve attached a picture to help, but it’s a multilevel structure (usually at least 4 tiers) with foods, clothing, drinks that the deceased enjoyed during life.  It’s not unusual to see wine/champagne with glasses, beans, tortillas, corn, and salt in the shape of a cross as part of the altar.  The altars are always surrounded by “cempaxóchitl”, a yellow flower used only for the Day of the Dead.  The Mexicans believe that the spirits of their loved ones come back for this one day.  Inside the government building, there was another altar, this time honoring 4 other revered citizens of Querétaro. 

Next, we went to visit Plaza Guerrero, another beautiful square here.  The square had been turned into a market with stall after stall selling various wares for the Day of the Dead.  Probably most prevalent were chocolate skulls (in many different sizes), but coffins made out of chocolate and sugar were also plentiful.  The coffins had the added attraction that by pulling a string the decreased would pop out.  Other stalls sold masks, figures of “katrinas” (deceased women), and skeleton figures sitting at tables or benches.  The market was crowded with families buying “skull” candies for the children.  Everyone was enjoying themselves looking at the products for sale and eating the venders’ food.  We’ve attached some pictures, so you can see the stalls and their products.

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