A cemetery is not what I would picture as the location for a day of celebration.
But in Ensenada, they view the cemetery, and death altogether, under a whole other light.
“We are not afraid of death. It’s something everyone must go through, so might as well enjoy it, right?” Eduardo Kanter explained as he was decorating his brother-in-law’s grave with vibrant flowers.
Día de los muertos offers Eduardo and his wife, Marina, the chance to remember their past loved ones for what they are, part of the family.
Within this carnival-esque gathering, each family had a unique tradition. At one gravesite, a full brass band of trumpets and tubas was playing the deceased’s favorite tunes. At the next, a family placing a meal of pan de muerto at their grandmother’s altar.
These festivities gave the community a chance to come together to happily celebrate those who are no longer with them. They view it as a way of remembering the importance of ‘los seres queridos‘ or loved ones.
Everywhere one looks they see the bright orange flowers, cempaxúchitl, adorning the tombs. And the streets surrounding the cemetery were full of candy skulls, taco carts, elotes, fruit stands and face painting stations.
Flowers at each and every corner,
Redefining what it means to be a mourner.
The gatherings for Dia de los Muertos mark a large part of their Mexican heritage. The kids get time off of school to remember the importance of the generations that came before them.
Berta’s whole family arrived at 7 a.m. to set up a picnic on her mother’s grave, eating tamales and drinking aguas frescas because that was always the mother’s favorite meal. The merry picnic continued well into the afternoon and through the full moon’s evening rise.
Tokens of Appreciation
Cempaxúchitl, also known as Aztec merigold, is a special flower–Berta said that its 20 petals are for the 20 people that surround you in life and in death.