November 2nd, Remembering and Honoring the Dead

The next installment of my trip to Mexico City has been put aside for today as it is the holiday of Day of the Dead, or All Souls Day as it is also known throughout the world. As both names imply, it is a day to honor the souls of those who have passed on.

Yesterday, many people from the village went to the cemetery and spent the day cleaning it up and beautifying the grounds in preparation for today. Before 9am, almost the entire village walked to the cemetery carrying flowers and food, including the favorite foods of the departed. People were also lined up just outside the cemetery fence with food and drink to sustain everyone, and flowers for sale in case anyone had not already brought them.

First there was an outdoor mass said and people would go up to the altar and read off the names of all their loved ones who were in this cemetery. I was surprised at how much I understood of what the priest was saying, so I guess my Spanish is actually improving. I had to laugh along with everyone else when he told everyone to be seated, then quickly said not to sit, as we would all have been sitting down in the dirt!

After the mass, people gathered around their family’s graves, and then visited with other families. For some, they would pour a drink over the grave for their departed loved one. I was very touched to be a part of this – to listen to the memories of the lives of the family members and to know that they are more than just names on a headstone. They are truly not gone, nor forgotten, but continue to exist in the hearts and minds of those they left behind. I was also told that it does not matter where you are living when you die, but you are buried in the place where you are from, and so, except for some gringo graves, the people buried in this place are from here –  Cofradía de Suchitlán.

It is good to witness a holiday keeping to its original values rather than being commercialized and I am grateful to have been a part of it.


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