Like many people I was inspired by the sultry introductory scene of James Bond’s Spectre …so much so…I booked a trip to Mexico City. We attended the 1st ever Día de los Muertos parade, which incidentally, was also inspired by the sultry introductory scene of James Bond’s Spectre. True story! After the film’s subsequent success the Mexican government planned the parade. While less extravagant than the movie, the parade celebrated the Mayan/Aztec culture including historic floats, costumes and dancing.
To be honest while interesting, we attended the parade like friends of friends invited to a wedding. While understanding the broad themes, we missed all the punchlines and kitsch little “that’s so us!” touches. So with four days of vacay to spare, we decided to eat some humble pie and dive into figuring out exactly what Día de los Muertos meant to those who truly observed it.
SIDE NOTE: Consider doing this before you book tickets.
We visited museums, spoke with locals and did a lot of research on this holiday which is celebrated throughout Mexico. What we discovered was one of the most beautiful displays of remembrance that dates back centuries. I was left feeling a little silly about having Hollywood inspired expectations when the real event was so much more inspiring and beautiful.
Dearly departed old and young are honored by loved ones with their favorite foods and drinks. Children learn about lost family members in an enjoyable and memorable way. The skulls and face paint are a characteristic part of the celebration. Memorials are displayed all over the city with the largest in the city center.
Death has always been ominous and frighting to me. The finality of it all leaves little room for connection with loved ones. I can only hope the true meaning of Día de los Muertos spreads as quickly as possible outside of Mexico.