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The “end of summer” and traditions that unite us

November 02, 2020

By Amy Clemitshaw

I am very happy to have the opportunity to write these lines. My name is Amy clemitshaw and I am the deputy ambassador to the British Embassy in Mexico. I arrived in the country in 2019, and after a few weeks of perfecting my Spanish in the city of Puebla, I became part of the dynamic reality of living in Mexico: an amalgam of colors, aromas, sounds, and flavors.

I have also been fortunate to visit various states and places in the Mexican Republic, always learning something new. I have marveled at archaeological sites like Xochicalco, in Morelos, with the collection of masks (the largest in the world!) At the Rafael Coronel Museum, in Zacatecas; with the murals of the great muralist Desiderio Hernández Xochitiotzin in the Government Palace or the majesty of the Guerrero coast, with its vibrant flora and fauna.

Michoacán, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Guanajuato and Chiapas are some of the states that I have visited during my stay in Mexico. I hope that the situation we are going through as a result of covid-19 will give me the opportunity to “catch up”, because I still have a good part of the country to visit!

Mexican gastronomy has become one of my favorite hobbies. Thanks to the support of my colleagues at the Embassy, ​​I learned that there are many different ways to prepare an egg, to get a taste for chilaquiles, that jicama tastes a thousand times better with chili pepper and lemon, that you shouldn’t be afraid of stalls of tacos and that you have to be careful with the spiciness. I even bought a molcajete to prepare different types of sauces.

It is no secret that the British have a very special fascination for Mexican food and culture. Despite the geographical distance, we have very similar traditions, although we approach them differently. Both Halloween and Day of the Dead coincide with the Samhain (“End of summer”), an ancient pagan holiday, in which it was also believed that the spirits of the dead returned to visit the mortal world.

In my country, a very popular tradition was Mischief Night, in which every October 30 it was customary to play practical jokes in the street. Another very popular English practice is the trick or treat, which has its origin in the souling, an ancient tradition in which boys and girls went from door to door asking for “soul cakes” or “soul cookies”. Even Sting has a song that talks about her!

For the British, talking about death is a kind of taboo. To be honest with you, I didn’t know much about the Day of the Dead tradition until I arrived in Mexico.

My husband and I were amazed by the vibrant orange of the marigold flower, the mischief of the skulls, the exquisite details of the decorations and, above all, the idea of ​​spending a little more time with our loved ones, even if it is For one night. For the first time we will put up an altar, to remember those who are no longer with us, but hold a very special place in our hearts.

I would like to learn more about the different Day of the Dead traditions throughout Mexico.

I look forward to your stories, photos, and videos via Twitter, where you can find me as @AmyClemitshaw.

See you soon!

* Deputy Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Mexico