All of Mexico, San Miguel de Allende

CATRINAS, PAN DE LOS MUERTOS, CEMETERIES AND OUR SECOND DIA DE LOS MUERTOS IN SAN MIGUEL

December 16, 2019
First see our blog post about our experiences with last years Dia de Los Muertos. Exciting, Amazing, Awesome, Emotional and Fantabulous!! Our first Dia de Los Muertos 2018, San Miguel de Allende

We had such an absolutely brilliant time experiencing San Miguel de Allende’s Dia de Los Muertos last year that we had great anticipation of participating in its whirlwind again this year. And we were not disappointed except for one big miss. Noche de Los Muertos is not celebrated at the main cemetery in Colonia San Antonio!! WHAT?? We had totally forgotten about the nighttime cemetery remembrances on November 1st last year so we made big plans to go this year only to arrive at the gates to find them locked and the cemetery dark. 

San Miguel is known for its Dia de Los Muertos celebrations but anyone making plans to come for it should be aware that the main cemetery is not open at night, like they are in Oaxaca and Patzcuaro, so they are not disappointed. We were really looking forward to seeing the candles, smelling the incense and experiencing the tribute of the families at night. And since it is such a big occasion for Mexicans we were sad to see that they couldn’t participate in it. 

We did however make our way there the next morning and once again the road leading up to the cemetery from the Real de Minas Hotel by Sterling Dickinson was in full swing with stalls full of flowers, candy, sunglasses and toys along with the compulsory food stalls.  We were particularly impressed with one bakery stall that had “to die for” cakes and pies. We found out that they do not have a shop in town but do sell at the Tanguis de Martes, or Tuesday market so look for them there. 

Going to the Colonia San Antonio cemetery is an amazing experience!! And even though this was our second time we were no less touched or grateful for being able to witness this occasion. 

Once again there were masses of colorful flowers decorating the graves, with marigolds (Cempaspuchitl or Calendulas) being predominant as they are believed to guide the spirit to the altar with their scent and bright color. Flowers in general represent impermanence or the fragility of life., so they are everywhere. The week before Dia de Los Muertos there were stalls set up selling a variety of animals and skulls made out of brightly colored sugar and these too were placed on grave sites. And, one must have a few bottles of a favorite brew or liquor added on. 

Death in Mexico does not really occur until no one is left to remember you. We love that thought. So Dia de Los Muertos is a time of stories told and memories shared as your loved ones descend to earth to share some time with you in celebration and remembrance of their lives. How healthy and heartwarming that is? 

Death comes to us all and we are hoping that when our time comes we are in San Miguel de Allende the “hometown” we have really come to love. The tradition of Dia de Los Muertos gives me a sense of peace for what is to come, although hopefully it is some time away. Much more so than the dark and dreary way of passing in the United States. We are planning on finding out more about the 24 Hour Society here that can take care of details and needs when you pass. Contact them at 24hourassociation@gmail.com or call 415-121-0010. They offer a prepaid plan of cremation and burial services that fully comply with Mexican law so you can rest easy. 

The Catrinas roots are from Aztec death goddess Mictecacihuatl. But the tradition of La Calavera Catrinas at Dia de los Muertos started as a satirical portrait. You can find out more here. In San Miguel, on the night of the first, the Catrina parades go on for hours. and it seemed that there were a few additional ones this year. We had dinner at Antigua Trattoria Romano which we believe is the best place to view the parade as you can just hop out front to see the passing costumes. Some are absolutely incredible. 

Beginning at Halloween the face painters are in full swing!!! You can find them throughout town but they are especially prominent on Umuran by the Jardin. We didn’t paint our faces last year as we were mainly sussing out the situation but we promised ourselves that this year we would indulge ourselves. And we did!!! It is easy, go check out the work of the various artists, pursue their books of designs, choose one you like and go forward. Our groups faces cost between 250-350 pesos. Not bad for a new look. It was a lot of fun!! 

We had our faces done on the 2nd and went to the Fabrica Arorra art walk that evening where everyone was dressed up and strutting their stuff. It was a huge night and we thought it was much bigger than last years. Definitely the thing to do!

If you are thinking about coming to San Miguel de Allende during this time, plan ahead and be prepared to enjoy this wonderful cultural tradition of Mexico. 

And, we highly recommend seeing the Disney movie COCO! We finally watched it this year and loved it. It is a beautiful animated movie that shows the incredible cultural and emotional aspects of how special Dia de Los Muertos is to the Mexican people. Enjoy!!

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2 Comments

  • Reply Phyllis December 16, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Love the pictures, Ria!

    • Reply ourprimeoflife December 17, 2019 at 3:58 pm

      Gracias, Phyllis!!

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