Experiencing Day of the Dead in San Miguel

October 18, 2009

Filed under: San Miguel de Allende Events — Annie @ 2:47 pm

Although San Miguel de Allende is not as famous a destination (such as Patzcuaro and Oaxaca) for witnessing Day of the Dead activities, visitors to San Miguel during late October/early November can certainly experience some of the traditional expressions of this most Mexican of all holidays.

Here are some suggestions for where to observe the festivities for this joyous remembrance of departed loved ones:

Last Week of October

– Stalls will appear in the Plaza Civica where vendors sell the objects traditionally used in the ofrendas, the altars built to honor dead relatives and friends.  You will see dozens of alfeñiques (sugar figurines) and papier-mache dolls in the form of skulls, skeletons, sheep, miniature plates of “toy” enchiladas and baskets of fruits.  Some stalls offer yellow and orange candles, others the “papeles picados”, the strings of colored cut-out paper garlands with skeleton motifs.

– Special ofrendas and ground decorations will be displayed in the Jardin in front of the Parroquia church.  The municipal government selects a different theme each year, intended to honor a particular deceased person, sometimes famous, sometimes not.  The altar usually reflects some sort of tribute to this person.  The ground decorations consist of colored sawdust, arranged in a pattern, and nuts/seeds/dried flowers.

-Other public ofrendas will be on display in the Museo Casa Allende, Cuna de Allende #1 at the corner of the Jardin, and also in the Bellas Artes, Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez, inside the courtyard at Calle Hernandez-Macias #75.

– The Mercado Ignacio Ramirez “El Nigromante” (on Calle Colegio, just north of the Plaza Civica) will have special stations set up to sell “cempoaxochitl” flowers (marigolds), the blossoms revered by pre-Hispanic Mexicans as having a scent strong enough to attract back the dead souls to earth, and stalks of sugar cane.

-Bakeries in town will be selling Pan de Muertos, usually round and sugar-coated loaves with an appliqué of bread  bones on top.  The blue-door bakery (La Colmena Panadería) at Calle Reloj #21 near Calle Mesones is one of the more traditional bakeries to visit.

November 1st

-This is the day in the pre-Hispanic tradition to honor the souls of children who died prematurely, as well as the Christian traditional day for honoring saints.  The old cemetery located near San Juan de Dios church on the street called San Antonio Abad (between Cjon Pilancon and Cjon de los Muertos) is locked most of the year, but it will be open on November 1 and 2 to allow visits to the old gravesites, which will have been newly cleaned and decorated with papeles picados and sawdust ground decorations.

November 2nd

-This is the main Day of the Dead for honoring everyone who has died.  Processions of family members carrying flowers and other objects (a bottle of tequila, a doll, candles, perhaps a religious icon) will be walking south along the side street near the Real de Minas Hotel, en route to the Panteón Municipal, the main cemetery. These processions continue throughout the day, and visitors to the cemetery will find it packed with cheerful crowds decorating the graves of their dead relatives and laying down marigold trails to lead back the dead souls.  Tourists should keep a respectful distance and not take photos of people without their permission.  Please note:  This cemetery is locked again after nightfall, so all of the processions and activities take place during the day.