Day of the Dead Pt 1

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Day of the Dead altar celebrating departed local artists and founders of La Fabrica La Aurora in San Miguel de Allende

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Offerings to the ancestors including Day of the Dead Bread, tamales, salt and fruit

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Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is perhaps one of the biggest and most colourful festivals in Mexico. On November 2nd people come together to honour and celebrate the lives of their departed loved ones.

The celebration of the Day of the Dead – which is actually a week of festivities is a vital part of Mexican culture which embraces death in meaningful and positive ways. It is said that during the Day of the Dead celebration week, the dead will visit their friends and relatives. One of the ways honour the dead is through the creation of colourful altars brimming with photos, candles, mementos and offerings. Rather than being morbid, theis time is actually really quite joyous, full of ritual and celebration.

Day of the Dead originated in the 16th century fusion of the Aztec belief in death as a part of the cycle of life. They often held rituals and made offerings to the goddess Mictecacihuatl (The Lady of the Dead). When the Spanish conquered Mexico they integrated the festivities into Catholic celebrations for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

In more recent times, although there are still catholic masses and prayers to honour saints and the dead, nowadays the festival has more of a carnival feel rather than spiritual. Not sure how I feel about that!

Last night we were at a dinner party talking about the festival and I was surprised to learn that, unlike most fun festivals around here, there isn’t a parade to honour the day in San Miguel de Allende – probably because many of the locals honor the spiritual side instead. Clearly after watching Spectre last year I had assumed that there would be massive parades rather like the opening scene of the movie. Funnily enough, the movie has had such an impact that this year – for the first time – a parade was held in Mexico City yesterday.

Today, we headed out to explore one of our favourite haunts – Fabrica La Aurora – a local art centre housed in an old textile factory. Brimming with art galleries, boutiques and fab places to eat, it’s a great way to spend a few hours. Today, each gallery had altars honouring their dead. The largest was in the entrance where the departed founders and local artists were honored with a huge colourful display!

Such a gorgeous wealth of colour and so very moving to recognise that people take time out each year to celebrate death…and in doing so we celebrate LIFE.

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Social time!

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October nights over San Miguel de Allende taken from the roof of the Palomar Hotel/Antonia’s Bistro

One of the things I love about San Miguel is that there is almost an overload of activities…especially at this time of year in the run up to Day of the Dead celebrations. So different to the life we led in sleepy Godalming!

We have not been at all starved of things to do – from endless dinner parties to music and nights out sampling the delights of some of the most incredible food we’ve eaten. We’ve also been doing a fair amount of entertaining ourselves. We love it and we’re taking full advantage of all these opportunities before we return to the UK next Spring!

I’ve been cooking weekly dinner parties for Joseph and Eduardo and friends. Neither of them cook but they have a fabulous kitchen…equipped by yours truly! So while we are here we might as well take full advantage of it! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made shepherd’s pie, cakes, trifles, stuffed eggplant, cannelloni and chicken green curry to name but a few dishes. That said, after a very full weekend, tonight has been a rare evening home alone and it’s been lovely to curl up on the sofa, watch a movie together and relax!