Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dia de los Muertos

Yesterday, November 2nd, was what is called El Dia de los Muertos known here in the U.S. as Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos is a Hispanic holiday that usually celebrated from October 30th until November 2nd and it is believed that during this time, the dead come to visit the living. The living are expected to pay tribute to their ancestors by celebrating this holiday in remembrance of the dead.

While many Hispanic countries celebrate this holiday in one way or another, the country most known for its celebration of Dia de los Muertos is Mexico. Dia de los Muertos is a mix of Aztec and Catholic traditions where families visit the graves of their loved ones and leave them ofrendas or offerings. The offerings usually consist of flowers, bread, sugar skulls and even small toys for children and are a way to show the dead that they are respected, remembered, and loved. In order to maintain the tradition, children are sometimes told cautionary tales about angry ancestors tormenting those who forget to pay tribute to them. Families spend the night at the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried playing games and telling stories about their deceased relatives. The cemetery becomes lively with laughter, candlelight and music. In rural Mexico, Day of the Dead is still celebrated in this traditional way but In cities, processions and parades are also a common way to remember the dead.

In my home, growing up, Dia de los Muertos was usually celebrated with a very low key purchase of flowers and lighting of candles for relatives who have died. Because we are Cuban Americans the tradition stems from Catholic beliefs and differ from the more Aztec inspired Mexican traditions. This year, I wanted to do something a little different. I recently found out that Ft. Lauderdale hosts their very own Day of the Dead festival! Complete with a procession of hundreds of traditional skull face painted people, Mexican luchadores, amazing art and a giant Frida Kahlo skeleton puppet, this festival was something I had to see for myself!

I celebrated the memory of my relatives with friends, enjoyed some bad ass mariachi music and even had my first burrito ever! Yes, I know. Hard to believe but yes, it was the first time I had ever eaten a burrito. It was from the traditional Mexican food truck Taco Fresh and it was called El Matón. Believe me when I say it was so amazingly delicious it was practically a religious experience. I have always been more of a taco and quesadilla type of girl but by the third bite I swear I was in pulled pork pineapple heaven. Divine.  

My friend Raymet took this cool picture of me trying not to squish my feathers in the car on the way to the festival.

People holding puppets getting ready for the procession.

More people in costume for the procession.

Awesome photo of my friend Arturo and I taken by an event photographer.

Epic giant Frida Kahlo skeleton puppet

Raymet and Arturo waiting in line at the Taco Fresh food truck

The religious experience known as El Matón


My lovely friend Idalmis kind of sad that it was time to go.

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