Halloween in Mexico means a little more than dressing up and trick or treating. The Day of the Dead – Dia de Los Muertos, is a celebration in remembrance of family and friends that have passed on. It is similar to the Celebration of Life – a gathering or wake after the funeral, as we in America call it after a loved one has died. But the Mexican culture takes time out every year to remember these individuals.
Temporary alters (pictured right) are erected with such items like pictures, favorite foods and personal articles that were cherished during their mortal lives. Multiple days are spent celebrating the departed loved one(s) with family
gatherings that reminisce about past experiences. However, it doesn’t always have to be family or friends. Memorials (pictured above – left) can represent and/or celebrate most anyone that no longer walks with the living.
The Mexican people are taking on more of America’s Halloween night rituals. The children enjoy dressing up and going out to reap the benefits of trick or treating. Going door – to – door isn’t practiced in Mexico as it is in the United States. Parents dress their little ones up in costume and head for the park, pedestrian friendly streets and/or town square to solicit for treats.
I had the most fortunate opportunity to get involved with this year’s celebration. My name is Anthony and we were invited to handout candy on Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenida. It was like no other night I have ever spent on the pedestrian friendly street.
It seems everyone was in costume. Moms and dads, the kids, and even the family dog was dressed up. Thousands upon thousands came out to collect treats, show off their creations and share in the festivities.
Even the shops and restaurant employees (pictured right) were joining in on the festivities. We had to travel several blocks to get to our designated area where we are suppose to be handing out candy. On the way there, my wife made a kind gesture to hand a few pieces of candy to some small children passing by. We quickly learned that when you open the treasure chest of goodies, its means you are sharing the riches with anyone and everyone around you (shown below).
The smile on these kids faces would warm any ones heart. In a country where treats can be a precious commodity, they are so happy to be filling up their bags and plastic pumpkins with enough pleasures to last them quite some time. The joy is all ours!
We finally made it through the crowds and reached our promised destination. We met up with our accompanying friends and hosts (picture right) who arranged this location. It was time to get into the game. We began to pass out handfuls of candy to lots of very eager children.
The endless parade of spectators, party goers and sightseers was amazing in itself. It was not only the kids who were enjoying themselves. The adults (pictured left) were having just as much fun showing off their masquerades as well.
In a little more than an hour, we handed out five giant bags of candy. All good things must come to an end, or do they? The group we were hanging with decided that it was time for some adult fun and entertainment. A local beach bar & grill was having a Halloween party and all agreed to pay them a visit.
We took the short walk to Zenzi Restaurant Bar & Beach Club. It was in full swing by the time we arrived. It was now the grown ups turn to enjoy the rest of the evening.
The music was playing, everyone was in form with their costumes, and it was time to do some mingling. I noticed that the Living Dead was making friends with Count Dracula. I think Dracula (shown right) was trying to explain which direction Transylvania was. The atmosphere was getting a bit frightening to the spectators who were looking on.
Everywhere I turned was a plethora of characters from all walks of life. They shadowed themselves amongst the crowd waiting to strike up a conversation. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. I saw an Arabian Sheikh posing with Ms. Christmas Jack Skeleton and an exotic dancer. You just don’t see that combination together everyday!
As I moved through the crowd, the entertainment was getting more and more involved. The music brought on a line dance that was being lead by a Caribbean dancer. It wasn’t the monster mash, but brought variety to the dance floor.
The evening finally came to an end. It will be one that I will never forget. Experiencing mixed holiday traditions can open your eyes and mind to lots of different things when visiting a foreign country.
Author: Anthony Scopel
Photography: Anthony Scopel & Crew
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Support: Matt Kemper
Publisher: You, Me and The Dock
YMATD would like to give a big thank you to Hazel Richardson & Eduardo Quiroz for inviting us along and showing us the ropes.