Day of the Dead, Oaxaca, Mexico


This month’s featured photography comes from photographer Eric Mindling of Traditions Mexico. 

Once a year, for the first two days of November, daily routine is put on pause in Mexico for the Day of the Dead festival. Food is made in abundance, graveyards are swept clean, tombstones washed, home altars built, and the flor de muertos (marigolds) fill every home and cemetery. It is moving, beautiful, respectful, and all about death, family, and remembering. Those who are alive, cry and sing, laugh and gossip, or stare into the skies, beside the graves of their beloved on the night when the spirits of the dead are believed to return for the party and annual feast of their favorite foods.


Oaxaca, Mexico. ©Eric Mindling/TraditionsMexico.com 

 

Day of the Dead is an all-inclusive community celebration, with friends and extended family at the tomb, and most of the villagers in the graveyard for the same purpose. Hundreds of candles, thousands of flowers, soft voices, a night sky, the spirits of the deceased in the air, and the spirit of those alive everywhere. And though the moments may be happy or sad, Day of the Dead is, above all, a celebration; a party of remembrance, appreciation and eating and drinking. And as with any good party, everyone is welcome.

For those not of the community or who have very different, perhaps very private customs around grieving the dead, it is important to know that outsiders are welcomed. Should you find yourself in Mexico, in a graveyard or in front of a home altar in late October or early November, consider yourself another invitee.

As I spoke with Teresa, the woman in this photograph, with tears in her eyes and pride in her voice she shared with me the story her grandson killed in an automobile accident. There was a beautiful altar for him covered with his favorite foods. How wonderful to have this moment to give to those who are no longer here in person but who still fill our hearts. A moment to share their memory and ease our emptiness. 

 

Eric Mindling has lived in Oaxaca, Mexico since 1992. His company, Traditions Mexico, offers off-the-beaten-path cultural tours into indigenous Mexico that cross cultural bridges and explore customs and lifeways through a focus on festivals, folkart and food.  Learn more at www.traditionsmexico.com or contact Eric directly at traditionsmexico@yahoo.com.

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