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Day of the Dead

Despite what you might be led to believe by the latest bond film (Spectre should a new one have been released), the 'Day of the Dead' festival in Mexico City doesn't actually feature a massive parade with everyone in masks, that being said, the week of celebrations surrounding the day have started to include parades, particularly since the release of the film, this is also increasing with the growing influence of Halloween in the country.

Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos to the more linguistic amongst you, is traditionally held on 2nd November (2 days after Halloween), although this also varies depending where you are. The festival is a celebration of ancestors, and whilst Halloween is about warding off evil spirits. the Day of the Dead is about celebrating the lives of those who may not be with us anymore.

A key feature of the festival is the 'ofrenda', which as the name might suggest, are offerings to the spirits, usually furnished with material goods that the ancestors might have enjoyed during their time on Earth, these can range from alcohols such as Tequila or Mezcal to foods, flowers and even music CDs and photos. The concept behind this is by offering these gifts then it will appease the spirits and bring them a happy afterlife, therefore reducing the need to bother the land of the living.

There are numerous public ofrendas, many of which are situated in the Zócalo and surrounding streets. These are often dedicated to those who may have lost their lives during the past year, for instance there were a number of ones dedicated to the recent earthquakes that had hit the country just before the festival.

Most families will also have smaller private ones to family members who have passed away, these are often set up within the home, however if you are lucky enough to be invited into a family home on the day then, along with feeling humbled, you will be greeted warmly, usually by the extended family, and if it's anything like my experience, then you will probably be handed a tequila as well...just don't shoot it!