Thousands of Mexican families celebrate the Day of the Dead from this Sunday, the most representative tradition of the country, with strong restrictions and mourning for the pandemic that leaves about 92 thousand dead.
Cemeteries, which are usually crowded on these dates, remain closed, while numerous events were canceled to prevent infections (to date more than 900 thousand) from soaring.
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Mexico City was left without its usual parade of smiling skulls and multicolored costumes.
Neither are people dressed as catrinas, the elegant skeletons typical of the festival, which will last until Monday.
Instead, many families remember those who have passed away in the privacy of their homes.
“Maybe at the time you see it with pain, but now I begin to see it as a joy, of what the Day of the Dead actually represents,” he tells the AFP Janet Burgos, 41 years old.
Together with her siblings, the woman put an offering in memory of her mother Rosa María, who died in June at the age of 64 allegedly from Covid-19.
Next to the altar, adorned with confetti, fruit and a photograph of a smiling Rosa María, Janet remembers that her mother asked not to be mourned when she died.
“I want everyone to be happy, to have a party because I died, I don’t want them to be crying, because life goes on,” Janet remembers her mother telling her.
According to Mexican tradition, during the Day of the Dead the souls return home to live with their relatives, who prepare offerings with photos, colorful marigold flowers and their favorite drinks and foods, in addition to the bread of the dead.
“It is going to be the first year that we are going to make an offering and more than anything for my mother, because every year she put it,” says Nelly, 47, Rosa María’s other daughter. “For the first time (…) it was very pretty.”
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Although the altar in memory of Rosa María is permeated with the joy of the Day of the Dead, the family cannot hide their sadness.
“You feel the absence and you will always feel it,” Janet sighs.
Traditionally, families visit loved ones in the pantheons and bring music, food and drinks.
The coronavirus had already altered funeral rites. Families like Rosa María’s were not able to celebrate wakes, and in many cases the bodies go straight from the hospitals to the crematorium.
For this reason, the offerings of the Day of the Dead this year became a consolation for those who could not say goodbye due to the epidemic.
The @cecut_mx this year will dedicate a monumental offering to the memory of the writer Carlos Monsiváis.
– Secretary of Culture (@cultura_mx) November 1, 2020
The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador decreed three days of national mourning for the victims of covid-19 in Mexico, of 129 million inhabitants and the fourth country most mourned by this disease.
In a solemn ceremony on Saturday, the first day of mourning, López Obrador dedicated an offering at the National Palace with the flag at half mast.
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The spirit of the day is “to remember all our deceased and especially those who have lost their lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the president.
For their part, the authorities of Mexico City set up a website for families to share images of their altars.
“Let’s keep the Day of the Dead alive. Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” tweeted the Head of Government, Claudia Sheinbaum, who days ago tested positive for Covid-19.
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