By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla
Mexico City, Oct 29 (EFE).- As the souls of the dead are all set to return from afterlife, Mexico City was on Friday ready to welcome them with offerings and skulls adorning public spaces on the eve of the Day of the Dead.
“All the offerings make it a precious and wonderful thing. It is a great tradition that we should never lose and which should be inculcated in children,” Magdalena, an accountant fascinated by the artwork that has taken over the city, told Efe.
Like every year, the capital’s public spaces have been filled with altars dedicated to the dead so that their souls can return to the mortal world to reunite with their families on Nov. 1-2.
Many of the altars are linked to current events, such as those installed in the Plaza Tolsa at the city center, dedicated to the nearly 300,000 people who have been killed by the Covid-19 pandemic in Mexico.
They are surrounded by candles, traditional and colorful skulls, and orange marigold flowers, which are supposed to guide the souls.
Magdalena, who sets up a grand offering at her house every year, stressed that the altars always include the things liked by the deceased family members, which they can enjoy during their visit.
In her case, she always puts her grandparents’ favorite desserts as part of the offering.
Over the next few days, the Plaza Zocalo is set to display a massive offering dedicated to the indigenous communities, while many museums have also prepared their own altars, including the Dolores Olmedo, which has dedicated its altar to the heroes of the more than two-centuries old Mexican independence struggle.
The offering of the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana goes back even more, to 1521, honoring the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, situated at the same spot as Mexico City.
Sculptor Antonio Lopez has tried to “give a little more light” to the historic episode despite its tragic outcome, with a majestic artwork that reinterprets the foundation myth of the Aztec city, in which an eagle eats a snake on top of a nopal cactus.
The Day of the Dead, Mexico’s most well-known festival internationally, was born out a syncretic mix between the pre-Hispanic perspective of death, and Catholic traditions.
Skulls, skeletons and Catrinas – women painted as skeletons, representing the lady of the afterlife – figure prominently in this celebration of death, which is much happier and more humorous than Halloween.
In the Paseo de la Reforma, a prominent street of Mexico City, a famous perfume brand has put up an imposing 8 meter-tall skull, surrounded by 200 smaller mud skulls and hundreds of marigold plants, turning it into a popular selfie spot.
Inside, there is an offering dedicated to Mexican potters.
“We celebrate death, we make offerings for our deceased (loved ones). It is a beautiful tradition,” said Andrea, who came out of the skull with her daughter Ximena, both dressed as Catrinas.
The city center also features a trade fair selling varieties of the pan de muerto (bread of the dead), a sweet-bread often shaped like bones which is a traditional Day of the Dead delicacy. EFE