Dia de Muertos is an important cultural celebration in many parts of Latin America but especially in Mexico but in Baja it hasn’t been a major event. Baja does not have the typical depth of culture one imagines when thinking of Mexico. The peninsula is distant from the mainland and different people lived here at the time of the Spanish invasion than on the mainland. The culture here reflects a long history of stoic ranchers heavily influenced by Catholic missions who in turn were heavily influenced by the Moorish occupation of Spain. Some ranching techniques, community values, and artisan crafts can be tied back to skills the Moors brought to Spain. But things in Baja are changing. More mainlanders are moving here and as they settle they bring their cultural traditions with them. I also think the beauty and emotion behind the celebration appeals to people of many walks of life and so Day of the Dead is simply growing in popularity based on its merits. The holiday has been included on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. I am glad it is becoming more popular in our part of Mexico.
Dia de Muertos celebrates death as a part of life by welcoming deceased loved ones for a visit home and sharing their memories. The ofrenda is built with photos, favorite food and drink, special belongings to welcome the dead home. By building the altar, selecting the food, the baseball mitt or hair clip, we focus, we remember, we feel and we do it as a community. It is a happy time. A celebration of reunion. There are parades and public art events. People dress as catrinas (skull faces) and try death on for a day. It’s all very moving and gorgeous. In Todos Santos this year there was a local show featuring live music and dancers, special talks about the traditions, and a blowout concert event featuring “Mexico’s Frank Sinatra.” The last event also featured blowout prices.
Time’s up. Gotta go.