Steeped deep in Mexican culture, Albuquerque’s Dia De Los Muertos celebration, (the Day of the Dead), is done in wonderful style. This traditionally Mexican holiday has a growing popularity north of the border, and Albuquerque is no exception. It may not be celebrated exactly as it’s done in Mexico, but Dia De Los Muertos in Albuquerque is certainly done with much thoughtful planning and enthusiasm.
Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration of ancestors and friends who have passed. In Mexico, each village has it’s own distinct celebration, but there is a general theme and rituals everyone observes. Memorial altars for the deceased are lovingly created in each home and laden with sweets, bread, fruits, incense, photos and candles. These altars may also have the ancestor’s favorite food, drinks, trinkets, or anything else loved ones may have enjoyed in their life on this side. In the evening there will be a parade to the local cemetery where villagers gather at the graves of family members to celebrate their lives. Graves sites are decorated with more items favored by their deceased loved ones, and adorned with wreaths, or coronas of flowers. Oh…and don’t forget the marigolds. Marigolds are a must on Dia De Los Muertos. I’m not sure why this particular flower has become representative of this holiday, but I like to think it may be because of their delightful, joyous color and the longevity of their blooming time – from Spring until frost. Early November must be a very good time for marigolds in Mexico.
Dia De Los Muertos, November 1 & 2 (depending on what village you may be in), comes from the Catholic Holy Days, All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day, that were created by the Church to combat the Celtic celebrations of the harvest in parts of Europe. The Church deemed these celebrations as pagan and unholy. The Spaniards found similar celebratory days practiced in New Spain when they arrived, and these soul savers felt the need to do something about that too. The forcing of All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day on the “pagans” in the New World, who honored their dead in a more celebratory Aztec fashion, morphed into what we now know as Dia De Los Muertos – a time when the remembered dead are welcomed back for a day of happiness and memories.
Besides the altars and marigolds, another must of any Dia De Los Muertos celebration is calaveras y esqueletos, skulls and skeletons – and this theme persists at our Albuquerque Dia De Los Muertos event. There will be NO zombies, bloody goulash costumes, witches or any other Halloween costumes permitted in the parade. Skeletons only! This is NOT a Halloween Party. It’s a celebration of the lives of those who came and went before us. It’s a joyful, honorable thing.
Here in Albuquerque, our residents don’t have a community cemetery where everyone can visit the graves of their deceased, so we celebrate the Day of the Dead with a parade and small festival. Albuquerque’s South Valley is the setting, and the Dia De Los Muertos Marigold Parade is a fun filled family event. The theme is drawn from the popular art of Jose Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican graphic artist from the time of the Mexican Revolution. Posada’s illustrations of calaveras as normal people doing the normal things living people do - singing, dancing, drinking, praying - along with his other political broadside media art, depict the social issues of his time.
Albuquerque’s 2012 Dia De Los Muertos Marigold Parade route is a little less than a mile long and is an easy walk for even the littlest skeleton. This year all parade floats are required to have marigolds on board. It’s a must! For complete rules, regs and general info regarding all aspects of this awesome celebration, go to the official Marigold Parade website. There you will find pdf entry forms and other information to download explaining it all, but generally speaking – marigolds, skulls, skeletons and altars – Yes. Zombies, alcohol, drugs and bloody ghouls – No.
When: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Time: 2pm to 6pm
Where: Parade starts at Isleta Blvd Sw and El Centro Familiar Blvd SW (at the Bernalillo County Sheriff Substation)
Ends at the Westside Community Center just east of Arenal on Isleta SW
An official Google Map of the parade route has been created. On the map you’ll see there’s additional parking marked up at Isleta and Arenal at the Smith’s Shopping Center, and across the road by Subway (eat fresh!) There will be a displays of altars, food, drinks and vendors at the end of the line at the West Side Community Center. Have a great time! Hey, at least you don’t have to come up with a new idea for a costume every year, right?
To the left here you can see our year-round resident, Oscar de la Calavera. He has made a home in my Grandfather’s clock, (appropriate, huh?), in the dining room at our Albuquerque Bed and Breakfast. Oscar could use some clothes. I never really thought he needed to be clothed, but after reviewing the Posada graphics, I’m feeling kind of sorry for Oscar, and neglectful. I’ll have to see what I can come up with, and I’ll let you know. He’s a little over two feet tall, so size is an issue. He may just need something custom made. He seems pretty happy at the thought of new duds.
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!