Day of the Dead and Halloween in Mexico City

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Nov. 2 is the Day of the Dead in Mexico, a holiday in Mexico City and other regions of the country. According to the newspaper La Jornada, 800,000 people were expected to visit the 117 cemeteries in Mexico City today, carrying out the traditional laying of flowers and food at grave sites. El Universal has a nice multimedia spread on how the holiday is celebrated in Mexico and the United States.

In some neighborhoods, a much smaller group of people celebrated Halloween on Oct. 31. At my home in the ritzy Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood of Mexico City, we gave out about 5 pounds of candy to dozens of kids (and grownups).


Our Halloween was a kind of metaphor of everyday life in this overcrowded but colorful and young city. We taped a cheap felt figurine of ‘La Catrina’ to our door. (The elegantly dressed female skeleton is a symbol of Day of the Dead, but here in Mexico City the symbols of the two holidays are increasingly mixed up.) Within minutes, people were driving up to our door and dropping off groups of boys and girls dressed as vampires and witches. ‘Queremos Halloween!’ they would call out.

Some people came in groups of 20, forming a line in front of our door, with a the occasional bit of pushing and shoving from the over-eager little ghost or mummy. My 3-year-old insisted on wading into the crowds of trick-or-treaters to dispense candies, and at one point she called out, ‘Someone stepped on my toe!’

In Mexico City, people aren’t afraid to ask for things, and occasionally an adult would hold out their hand and say, ‘I want a Halloween too.’ Even a local construction worker got into the act, holding out his lunch bag.

Finally, my 8-year-old son got a little freaked out and begged to ‘take down La Catrina.’ We did, but still got a few more knocks at the door. I didn’t mind at all. It was a Halloween my kids won’t soon forget.

Posted by Héctor Tobar in Mexico City