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Do you still remember the film Coco, an animation that tells the story of Miguel, a boy who dreams of being a musician and who visits the World of the Dead, and there seeks his great-great-grandfather, a famous composer? The visit takes place just during the day of the dead festivities, or rather, the Days of the Dead, because in the celebration of Death, in the Mexican tradition, November 1 is dedicated to children and November 2nd is dedicated to adults.

During the Feast of Death, which is celebrated every year as a way of reminding relatives and loved ones that they are gone forever, various activities are carried out. Each family decorates their home, in the style of their region, and in many of them make offerings (ofrendas). An offering (ofrenda) consists of an altar where photographs of the deceased are placed, accompanied by candy skeletons (charamuzcas) and sweet skulls, as well as the drinks and food they liked in life. It is also decorated with candles or candles, chopped paper (a typical Mexican ornament), flowers such as Cempasúchitl, religious motifs and urns with incense.

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Residents of the Coyoacán neighborhood in a typical procession during the Death Festivals in Mexico (Foto: quetalmexico)

The Mexican community believes that deceased relatives come to eat, drink and celebrate, during the Day of the Dead.

The celebration, with slight variations, encompasses all corners, urban and rural, and all walks of life in the country of the hat. It's easy to find decorations or ornaments alluding to death's theme almost anywhere.

IMG 20191103 WA0094Typical decoration of Days of the Dead on a street in Mexico City (Foto: Inten Utari)

Government buildings, shopping malls and schools are also decorated with death flowers, skulls and various typical ornaments. In the schools, special ceremonies are held in which, through theatrical performances, the mythology of the original people is remembered and preserved that, after mixing with Spanish beliefs, has given rise to the current Mexican culture.

19 11 03 12 15 41 087 DecoRepresentation of a Traditional Day of the Dead Ceremony at a school in CDMX (Foto: Quetalmexico)

The Feast of Death is a tradition of the ancient Aztec society that has existed for about 2,500-3000 years, long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. In the calendar of the Aztec community this celebration falls into the ninth or early August, and is celebrated for a full month.

However, the National Feast of the Days of the Dead is currently celebrated every 1 and 2 November, which coincides with the Feast of the Feasts of All Saints and the Day of the Spirit (Day of All Souls) for Catholics.

On November 1, their party was called Angels Day and was dedicated to the memory of the children. From November 2, it is called the Day of the Faithful Dead which is intended for adult spirits.

IMG 20191103 WA0007Walkers disguised to celebrate the Feast of the Dead (Foto: Inten Utari)

Although the Fiesta de los Muertos is an authentic Mexican tradition, several countries such as the United States, Spain and some South American countries also celebrate it. In 2008, UNESCO incorporated the Day of the Dead celebration into the "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".

In 1910, the Mexican political cartoonist and lithographer, José Guadalupe Posada, sketched a female skull, just the torso and head, wearing a luxurious French-style headdress. At first it was thought to be a representation of Mictlancíhuatl, the Lady of Death in Aztec mythology. The correct name of this drawing, which was actually a satire to the indigenous people who ate chickpeas and wore expensive clothes trying to look European, is the Chickpea Skull (Calavera garbancera).


19 11 03 12 29 33 953 DecoRepresentation of La Catrina at the Museum of Popular Cultures (Foto: Quetalmexico)

It was Diego Rivera, the famous mexican mural artist, who painted the Calavera garbancera complete and dressed, in his mural "Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central", who was responsible for his current attire and for his name being "La Catrina".

IMG 20191103 WA0022Model impersonating La Catrina (Foto: Inten Utari)

Over time, La Catrina has become an icon in the celebration of the Days of the Dead in Mexico, and its appearance and clothing is adopted by the people who personify her during the holidays.

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