Mexican cemeteries celebrate beautiful lives
Most people don’t have a desire to spend time in a cemetery. They are a reminder of death, and death is associated with fear and illness and sadness. But graveyards can be a fascinating cultural attraction. A culture’s attitude toward death speaks volumes about its priorities, attitudes, and beliefs. In Mexico, cemeteries are colorful, well-kept, and even whimsical. What does this teach us about the culture of families in Mexico?
The Day of the Dead
For three days every year, Mexican families celebrate life by paying their respects to the dead. On November 1st, an all-night vigil takes place at the cemetery where families gather around the burial plots of their loved ones. They light candles, eat food, and leave special treats on the gravestones for their loved ones to enjoy in the afterlife. If you visit a cemetery on the day of the dead, you’ll see marigolds, flower chains, sugar skeletons, and you’ll smell the delicious aroma of tamales. The time is spent reminiscing about the dead and enjoying life with family. Parades, dancing, and music often accompany the festivities.
Respect for Ancestors
The Mexican traditions related to death really show the culture’s respect for their ancestors. Dedicating three days a year to memorializing them is something most people don’t do. Many families create shrines to their deceased loved ones. They light candles and make the person’s favorite food or treats and lay them on the alter as a symbol of love and devotion. This inclusion of the deceased in the living family’s life is both unique and admirable. Family is central to the Mexican culture and the traditions that have served as the glue of their culture for generations.
Color and Culture
Cemeteries in Mexico are unlike burial sites anywhere else in the world. They are well-kept, colorful, and covered in decorations and flowers. Families visit and decorate tombstones regularly. The place is bright and the atmosphere is positive and celebratory. Most Mexican cemeteries feature a mixture of tombstones and crypts. Instead of the customary tombstones, lots of grave sites feature artistic tombstones that resemble traditional Mexican architecture, multi-tiered models of buildings in a rainbow array of colors.
Mexican cemeteries give one a feeling of joy more than sorrow. Death is a part of life, and the way it is talked about and treated in the Mexican culture really brings that to the forefront of one’s mind. Spending time in a cemetery in Mexico will remind you how beautiful life is, and how the temporary nature of life makes it even more special.