Dia de los Muertos in Chapala, Mexico


I'll be honest and say that all the skulls and skeletons associated with Halloween and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) are not my thing.  I prefer bones with their skin on and alive. :o)  But it was interesting to see how the Mexicans really celebrate their dead every year.

We had originally hoped to go on a tour of Michoacan, a town known for its celebrations, but we just couldn't swing it.  I'm actually glad we stuck with a nearby celebration because the crowds in Michoacan are supposed to be pretty large and we aren't fans of large crowds.  They were big enough in Chapala and it's much easier to keep track of several little ones in smaller crowds.

We actually had mixed feelings about where to go on November 2nd.  On November 1st, it's the Dia de los Angelitos (directly translated as the Day of the little angels, but is a day for celebrating deceased children) and I didn't think I could handle seeing altars for children.  But for the 2nd, we had a toss up between going into Chapala or going to Ajijic and seeing their celebration.  Our friends at loved their Dia de los Muertos experience in Ajijic and I kind of wish we'd gone there.  But there was the draw of getting churros in Chapala (there aren't churros vendors in Ajijic), so with the kids' bellies pushing their votes, we went to Chapala.

Along the Calle 5 de Mayo, all the altars were setup.  I don't know if it is tradition to focus on pinks and purples or if it is a Chapala "thing" or just the colors for this year, but those colors where everywhere.  (See the photo slideshow below.)

Some altars were for family members who seemed to have passed away many years before.  Others were as recent as 6 months ago.  But the thing that really struck me was that this was not a creepy or sad event.  These people were genuinely celebrating those who had died.  Maybe it is part of their healing process to mourn this way. 

And those who didn't create an altar in the town, like those who had loved ones lost along the main highway (carretera), they replaced the old tattered and faded road-side crosses with new ones and sat next to them for most of the day.  I've read that some people will spend the night by their altars or in the cemetaries or even leave pillows and blankets out for their deceased loved ones to rest on.  VERY different than anything we've ever experienced, to say the least.

All in all, it was an interesting night, although I don't think the kids cared for it much.  The highlight for them was seeing the blue eyed horse and the biggest disappointment was seeing that the churros vendor was closed!  I wish we had gone to Ajijic for their parade, but whenever you travel, you can't do it all.  At least we can say we did something!


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