It’s not Halloween quite yet, but some ghoulish characters have already started populating the streets of Mexico City.
A parade of skeletons flooded the city last night for the Grand Procession of the Catrina. Here’s what you need to know about the event leading up to the Day of the Dead celebrations.
Thousands of people in elaborate skeleton-inspired costumes and make-up paraded down Reforma Avenue in Mexico City last night.
The parade is annually held every year in the lead up to the Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos, celebrations. Make-up artists were on hand during the parade to touch up the colourful looks.
Dia de Muertos is on 2 November but the celebrations run from October 31. It’s a Mexico holiday that was traditionally used to honour deceased loved ones.
Traditionally November 1 was a Catholic holiday to welcome souls of children who have passed away (known as Dia de los Inocentes) and November 2 is when adult souls arrive. Now both days are interwined with the three-day Dia de Muertos holiday.
During both the Grand Procession of the Catrina and Dia de Muertos, skulls are everywhere. It traces back to when they were used it rituals or kept as trophies.
‘La Calavera Catrina’ is the ‘Dapper Skeleton’, who has become the symbol of the festival and the character that so many people dress up as.
The Catrina is a female skeleton who wears an elegant broad-brimmed hat. She was first presented as a satirical engraving by artist Jose Guadalupe Posada in the early 1900s. She has come to represent the Day of the Dead but also the willingness to laugh at death. While on Halloween, death is something to be feared, Dia de los Muertos celebrates it.
Both events are important and expensive rituals for many families. During the holiday, people decorate their homes to honour the dead. Altars are adorned with everything from flowers to candles and the favourite food of those who have died.
They believe the happy spirits will provide protection and good luck to their families. After Dia de Muertos, on November 2, the festivities carry on at cemeteries – people clean tombs, play games and listen to music.