Next week is the celebration of Día de los Muertos, which are the two days after what we know as Halloween. In the US it is known as All Saint’s Day – a day to remember loved ones who have passed. To combat the increasing commercialism of Halloween, the city of Mérida sponsors an exhibition and competition of altars. Except in a few cities in México, the day of the dead is a very private event for families.
A few years ago I was in Guadalajara for a conference and had the chance to go to one of the large city cemetaries, just across from one of the flower markets. Families decorated the tombs and graves of in a loving and celebratory way – with crepe paper streamers, flowers, dishes of their favorite foods and there was even a family who hired a mariachi band to play their mother’s favorite songs. It’s very good business for mariachis to roam the cemetary. When I die I think I would like mariachis to play for me – “Cielito lindo” would be perfect. That day was a beautiful day all around. All over Guadalajara there were images of the skeletons like this one featured on a site my friend L sent me – tu santa muerte. My friend J tells me Santa Muerte is the patron saint of narcos, along with Jesus Malverde, and bad kids but also some good people and well, he’s just not your regular saint nor is he an official one but there is certainly a following – whether it be fashionistas or real believers or both. I can’t wait to see what Mérida has in store. November 1st is the day for children and November 2nd the day for adults – presumably. Both days are holidays at school to allow people to pay their respects. Several of my students are going back to their home towns. I am trying to hitch a ride with them for that but so far no one wants to say “yes” or “no” to their maestra.