Folklore: Mexico City’s Day of the Dead Parade
November 1, 2016
Mexico City’s most iconic avenue, Reforma, burst into colours last Saturday when quirky Day of the Dead themed characters filled the streets as the awaited festival kicked off. Thousands of people gathered around as gigantic skeletons, marionettes, and costumed acrobats began marching and performing their way through the capital.
Now, now – Mexico City had never hosted such a grand scale parade before. We have, of course, celebrated the Day of the Dead, and more so in smaller towns such as Oaxaca or more local celebrations in the island of Janitzio and the week-long Feria del Alfeñique in Toluca. Traditionally, the main way to observe this day was to gather around grave sites of loved ones who have passed away and decorating it with flowers, the deceased’s favorite foods and general memories of the people they love in order to feast the spirits and celebrate their lives instead of mourning their passing away.
This particular parade was organized as an ode to the one portrayed in the latest James Bond film, “Spectre”, where Bond chases a criminal through crowds of skeleton and catrina costumes in Mexico’s alluring historical center.
That said, and despite not really being a “traditional” parade – it did exceed expectations and was a wonderful way to showcase the rich culture Mexico has to offer. As a myriad of catrinas entered the streets dancing wistfully accompanied by a giant skeleton sporting a cigar in mouth that looked just as the one portrayed in the famous scene, there were also other characters displaying trinkets of Mexican culture added into the mix.
Characters appareling majestic Aztec penachos moving rythmically to the beat of the music and the presence of cempazuchitl, a plant used by the Aztecs for medicinal, ceremonial and decorative purposes, did not go amiss. The he appearance of Aztec and Mayan geometrical patters used for body paintings and charros, revolutionary characters and adelitas sporting skeleton masks were a big feature as well!