Nogales and Surrounding Area Observe El Día de los Muertos
The period at the end of October and beginning of November is a special time in Mexico and the border region.
The moderate daytime temperatures and refreshingly cool evening air create an ambiance that heralds the change of seasons to a cooler climate. And accompanying that climatic comfort is a special ambiance of spirituality and remembrance.
The original pagan holiday of Halloween, celebrated on the liturgical calendar as All Hallows Eve, is followed by two days of remembrance and celebration on November 1 and 2. And this year the calendar cooperated perfectly, with these three days, making them a weekend of spirituality and remembrance.
November 1 is All Hallows, perhaps more commonly known as “All Saints Day,” when all saints and saintly people are solemnly recognized and remembered by the Catholic church and some protestant denominations.
In Mexico the first day of November is also known as El Día de los Santos Inocentes, the Day of the Innocent Saints. It is the first day of remembrance for the Day of the Dead, one that speciifically remembers those who died as children.
To commemorate the day, loved ones of children will visit the graves of the departed to clean, paint and maintain them. Many will aso be decorated with flowers, balloons, toys and other items that are reminders of the child.
The following day, the Day of the Dead, is to remember and honor all of the departed. It is a major event in Mexico, as cemeteries fill with people and the festive colors of flowers and other decorations.
In the cemetery, as family members are sweeping, washing, cleaning, repairing and painting the resting places of their loved ones, and many have brought food and drinks to have a meal at the grave with the dearly departed.
Musicians stroll by and will occasionally be hired to sing a favorite canto of the departed. It is a good day for enterprising young boys and girls who help carry flowers and lug containers of water for a few pesos.
Outside of the cemetery vendors sell stalks of cane sugar and brightly colored traditional Day of the Dead flowers, like the brilliant yellow sempasuchitl, along with large coronas adorned with ribbons, flowers and other decorations. And of course, a multitude of makeshift food stands sell a variety of food and drinks to help sustain the visitors.
One of the most endearing Day of the Dead traditions is to construct an altar, or ofrenda (offering) for the departed loved one. There are several traditional observances regarding such things as the tiers of the altar and what to include in its presentation. But the altar is basically a representation of the life of the honoree, to include symbols of activities he or she enjoyed while living.
The altars also bear the favorite food and drink of the dead person, following an ancient belief that during this time of the year the dead return and can enjoy the offerings that have been placed on their altar.
These beautiful traditions are being observed and continued on both sides of the border in Nogales and in nearby areas this year. People in Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona will visit the graves of their loved ones – tending to, cleaning and adorning them.
In addition, the Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce has organized a tour of Day of the Dead altar displays at various businesses in Nogales, Rio Rico and Tubac. Altars will be available for viewing through November 5.
Also, for those of you who might like to cross the border and enjoy the great weather in Nogales, Mexico, the Imfoculta cultural arts center in Nogales, Sonora is featuring Day of the Dead altar displays and other activities from October 31 to November 2.
And on Sunday, the Global Arts Gallery and Lillian’s Closet at 315 McKeown Avenuein Patagonia will celebrate their 14th Annual Dia de los Muertos Circle of Life Celebration from noon to 5:00 p.m. Read more about this event.
Also on Sunday, the Tubac Presidio will celebrate Dia de los Muertos from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
These are all good opportunities to learn more about this festive annual tradition while observing how is it practiced, while enjoying the beautiful weekend weather in Ambos Nogales and Santa Cruz County, Arizona.