city at night

city at night

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Day of the Dead Is Coming!

You don't need to consult your calendar to know that the Day of the Dead is just around the corner.  A stroll around Mexico City will provide you with plenty of clues that one of Mexico's most unique celebrations is coming up next week.

The Day of the Dead is a time for remembrance of departed loved ones.  But even before it became intertwined with Halloween customs from the U.S., it had its lighthearted side.  The Mexicans have a talent for poking fun of something as serious as death.

Here are some pictures I took while wandering around Mexico City...

Many shop windows are decorated for the holiday.

Most every bakery sells "pan de muerto" (bread of the dead) this time of year, but this shop doesn't want to leave any doubt in your mind that they have the traditional bread... with or without cream filling.

The same bakery has a large selection of "Catrinas" for sale.  "Catrinas" are the elegantly dressed female skeletons that are an integral part of Day of the Dead decorations.  The shop window was filled with small "Catrina" candles and figurines, as well as this large and rather expensive skeleton taking a ride on her bicycle.

These two "Catrinas", accompanied by their skeletal canine friends, welcome patrons to a couple of neighborhood restaurants.

This restaurant went with a gringo-style Halloween decoration of witches... or perhaps they are the Shakespearean witches from "Macbeth"?

"Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble."

The entrance to this home is decorated with plastic jack-o-lanterns and also "papel picado" banners.

"Papel picado" (literally perforated paper) is a traditional Mexican folk art that is popular for holiday decorations.  Elaborate designs are cut into sheets of colored tissue paper.

This stall, along busy Insurgentes Avenue, is selling Halloween costumes.

Trays of sugar skulls (they also have them in chocolate and coconut) are for sale in the candy shops.

Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like the Day of the Dead!


  1. Do you happen to know why they're called "Catrinas"? Is it based on a famous (or fictional) woman's name? Or is there some other meaning?

    1. Back in the early 1900s the famous Mexican print maker, José Guadalupe Posada made an etching of a skull wearing a big, fancy hat. He called it "La calavera catrina", which translates as "the fashionable skull." The drawing was a satire on the upper class Mexican women who wore the latest fashions from Europe. Ever since then these female skeletons have been referred to as "catrinas"... and the dapper, male counterpart is a "catrín".