I still remember visiting the family graveyard as a child on November 2nd to clean up graves and leave fresh flowers for the ones already gone. Celebrating the dead ones was for me something sweet but very sober and with no major preparations.
In Mexico, it is a different story. It is believed that at midnight on October 31st the gates of heaven open to let the “Angelitos” (young deceased ones) reunite with their families for 24 hours, while on November 2nd it is the turn for the adults. It is a joyful, and sometimes also grieving time, where the dead ones are believed to come back to visit their worldly relatives for a short time. There is nothing scary or macabre about the celebrations, there is also no “Trick or Treating” involved or pumpkin carving.
Now that we live so close to Tijuana, Alex & I decided to visit the city for the day and see how they keep the tradition alive. Despite people telling us how much bigger the celebrations are in the South people seemed to be going all out with their offerings and displays.
The fist thing we did was to stop at the Mercado Hidalgo where every year they do a huge altar to commemorate departed members of the market. They also invite non members to bring the names of their loved ones that they’d like to see included.
Sugar sculls, marigolds, candles, toys, candies and all kinds of different food and drink are included in the altars as offerings so that the dead ones can have them after their long trek back home.
Marigolds are the flowers used on altars and are also seen decorating graves, it is believed that their strong scent and bright color help guide the spirits while they make their way back home.
The merchants in the markets sell all kinds of skulls, Catrinas & even piñatas. Being so close to the border you can also see all kinds pumpkin and vampire themed candies and piñatas.
And even some political ones…
A random portrait of Alex just because…
We also visited the Food garden to grab something to eat. There we found “Papel Picado” hanging from roof, friendly human sized Catrinas, and a little colorful altar with offerings.
To end the day we visited the cemetery where there were people cleaning graves, thousands of marigolds, some altars, mariachis and families picnicking. I let my camera rest and took only the picture below as I didn’t want to intrude on such private and moving reunions.