Next week is one of Mexico’s biggest holidays — dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead. For a long-time American like me, it can be hard to separate it from Halloween, but the two holidays are quite different. Dia honors and celebrates the passing of loved ones, by having an annual funeral of sorts for everyone you’ve ever loved, topped off with a festive tone.
Today I visited one of the country’s largest markets for Muertos goods and handicrafts in Toluca, Mexico, about 50 kilometers from Mexico City. It’s called the Feria del Alfeñique y Dulce Tradicional de día de Muertos.
And, yep, I took lotsa photos:
The ultimate Muertos accessory? An ornate sugar skull, aka calavera:
How are these calaveras displayed, once they’ve been purchased at the market?
It depends. I, for one, simply love how they look. They’re colorful, a tad creepy (like me) and fun. So, I bought some longer lasting clay versions today, even though I don’t expect to be particularly reverent next weekend.
(Instead, my calaveras will become part of my guest bedroom(s) decor, since I love the idea of a calavera watching over my guests as they try to sleep, but instead toss and turn with the thoughts that 1) Wow, I’m in Mexico City and the altitude is really high and I’m totally exhausted and just want to sleep after all those margaritas but 2) there are skulls in every corner of this room.)
But most people in Mexico will use them on graves, or in their homes, like offerings on a shrine. Here are some examples, from the La Feria de Alfenique displays in Toluca:
The sugar market is vast — it stretches the entire length of three sides of this building:
Most of the downtown area is covered with skeletal artwork and signs..
If you’d like to read more and see a lot more photos, I recommend this great blog about Dia de Muertos by Mary J. Andrade.
NOTE: TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE 2008 ALFENIQUE/SUGAR SKULL MARKET, READ MY LATEST BLOG POST: DO YOU LIKE MY SUGAR SKULLS?