Skulls, animals, food etc. made of sugar are a,popular item for decorating altars and graves. The variety was amazing!
They were holding a mass in the cemetery when we got there.
Click here for Mass in the cemetery
This grave had an elaborate arrangement of the traditional marigolds and sugar skulls.
The salt spread on the ground in the shape of a cross is supposed to have a purifying effect.
An incense called copal is often burned. It is a dried tree sap that has been used since the days of the Aztecs. I bought some in the market but haven't burned it yet.
Families were cleaning up around the graves, repainting, pulling weeds etc. There were mariachis walking around singing as some families sat picnicking and telling stories at the grave sites .
Click here to see the mariachis
Here are some pics of another altar went went to see in a home. It is slightly different since these people are from Oaxaca. It was in memory of his father and her grandmother.
Those are loves of bread along the front with a huge loaf at the back. It is believed that the dead consume the "essence" of the food. For this reason it is supposedly without taste when it is consumed by the family members at the end of the celebration.
More pictures from the home we visited (actually it was a beautiful B&B).
Day of the dead is a very colorful and interesting tradition. The emphasis is on family. There is no trace of the glorification of violence, blood and gore that dominates in the states. It recognizes death as a part of life, and not in a fearful way. Pranks, scaring people, and kids begging for candy aren't a part of the experience. I like this way of doing things very much.