I'm loving this time of year. Here I was, thinking the city went crazy for El Dieciséis,
but Day of the Dead is so much more colorful, and soulful. Brightly colored sheets of papel picado hang in store windows. Velvety, crimson terciopelo flowers sit in vases at restaurants. Orange marigolds, the traditional Day of the Dead flower (called cempasúchil in Spanish) have suddenly bloomed in the street medians. Some stores have even set up altars, which look like a series of steps draped in white cloth, and then covered in oranges, bananas, and bread. Yesterday I saw one at El Tizoncito,
the tacos al pastor place. I even got into the mood and created a small altar in our house. I draped a white crocheted doily on our buffet, and placed candles, cempasúchil in old jam jars, and photos of my grandparents, great-grandparents and my stepdad, who died when I was in high school. I've also got a tiny sugar skull wearing a wide-brimmed catrina hat, which I bought at the Feria de Alfeñique in Toluca. This is my first altar ever, by the way. I didn't celebrate Dia de los Muertos growing up. You absolutely have to go to the Toluca sugar skull fair, if you live anywhere close in Mexico or if you're traveling during this time of year. They've got chocolate skulls. Sugar skulls. Skulls in cowboy hats. They've got all the traditional Mexican sweets, which I'll write about in another post, because they're just too detailed to try to cover here. I ate so much sugar -- and a taco de quelites,
to balance it all out -- that I had a stomach ache on the car ride home. Here are a few photos. If you're interested in going, the fair is located just off the colonial square, about two blocks from the church.
These skulls are ready to be personalized -- it's a custom to write a friend's name on the skulls' forehead.
These are called oficios -- they're traditional during Day of the Dead, and the skeletons are always posed in funny scenes that depict everyday life.
A traditional style of alfeñique, or animal-shaped candy molded from sugar.
A traditional Day of the Dead ofrenda, or altar