Mexico Again Marks Day of the Dead

Some had sneaked into cemeteries despite the rules
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 1, 2021 6:35 PM CDT
Mexico Restores Day of the Dead After Lost Year
With a musician playing and accompanied by his family, Masiel Ventura places flower petals on the tomb of his brother-in-law in the Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery Sunday.   (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Mexico returned Sunday to mass commemorations of the Day of the Dead, after traditional visits to graveyards were prohibited last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the one-year hiatus showed how the tradition itself refuses to die: Most families still celebrated with home altars to deceased loved ones, and some sneaked into cemeteries anyway. Gerardo Tapia Guadarrama on Sunday joined many others at the cemetery as he visited the grave of his father, Juan Ignacio Tapia, who died in May 2020 of a thrombosis.

"Last year it was prohibited, but we found a way," Tapia Guadarrama said slyly. "To live is to remember," he said. "What they (the dead) most want want is a visit from those they were close to in life." The holiday begins Oct. 31, remembering those who died in accidents; it continues Nov. 1 to mark those died in childhood, and then those who died as adults on Nov. 2. Observances include entire families cleaning and decorating graves, which are covered with orange marigolds. At cemeteries and at home altars, relatives light candles, put out offerings of the favorite foods and beverages of their deceased relatives.

There was a special altar in downtown Mexico City dedicated to those who died of COVID-19. Relatives were allowed into a plaza and offered equipment to print out photos of their loved ones, which they could then pin, along with handwritten messages, on a black wall. It was a solemn remembrance in a country where coronavirus deaths touched almost all extended families. Mexico has over 288,000 test-confirmed deaths, but probable coronavirus mortalities as listed on death certificates suggest a toll closer to 440,000, by some counts the fourth-highest in the world. Dulce Moreno was calm but sad as she pinned up a photo of her uncle and her grandfather, both of whom died of complications of COVID-19. "The house feels empty now without" her grandfather, Morena said. "We feel lost."

(Read more Day of the Dead stories.)

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