It's that wonderful time of year again and I feel compelled to once more show some of this vibrant festival. This year I'll try for less text, and more immersion through photographs. Please ask questions & I'll answer them if I can.
On October 29 I was downtown tending to some business and walked toward the Alameda (area around the cathedral) as I needed to go to an office there. Instead, I ran smack into the graduates' comparsa (costume party & parade) ~~
It's looking like there is increasing Halloween influence among the young people (I love the dead bride in her wedding dress). In any case, this aspect of the celebration definitely seems to be a bit more animist and not at all related to Catholic dogma.
I bet everybody wanted those birds to be bats flying over the church.
Wonderful pics Bixa. I have always loved this holiday and every element of how I remember it holds true. I don't quite see much of a Halloweenesque element,certainly not from the aspect shown here in the pics. Thanks for these, I look forward to seeing more.
Very colourful. I had never heard of this festival, I suppose it is all related to Halloween/All Saints. Us older Brits prefer Bonfire Night instead, Nov 5th, when Guy Fawkes was caught trying to blow up Parliament. There are several here now who would like a modern Guy Fawkes to succeed ;D ;D
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
Thanks for the kind words from all of you. I hope you'll stay with me & be just as kind later, as this is going to be a looooong thread. ;D
Kerouac, despite the sophistication of many of the costumes, most of what we're seeing comes directly from very old Mexican tradition. In the last hundred years or so, much of the imagery references the work of José Posada, but the celebration itself has very deep roots with strong beliefs still attached to it.
Casimira is most correct in pointing out there's not much of a Halloweeny aspect to it. There is a fun satirical burlesque element, though, as you'll see with the lampooning of politicians, clerics, & others.
True that the baby is creepy, but it does sort of make the costume, hee hee. Thanks, NYCGirl -- I love how the sky is cooperating with the mood of the festival.
Mossie, yes it is related to All Souls/All Saints, which meshed with beliefs existing in Mexico centuries before the Spanish got here. Here is some background & self-promotion in a neat package for you: Days of the Dead, Oaxaca  and Muertos, Oaxaca 2011.
Okay, lets move it along! I have tons of pictures, although I must apologize for the quality. It was an overcast afternoon & the light was fading, not to mention my shaky photographic skills. And this is just the beginning -- lots more places to go & things to see!
The different groups and bands just kept coming in waves ~~
This was a real illustration of why it's good to always have the camera at hand, since running into this moving party was just dumb luck. There will be more of this, plus a visit to the market (as in years past), home altars, & nighttime in the big municipal cemetery.
Aren't they darlings, Lola? Yes, lots of potential, plus sweet and friendly. I was taking pictures of those "mad hatter" boys when I realized something -- "You all are smiling inside your masks, aren't you?" "Yes, yes we are!"
I'm trying to work my way through the crowd to the stage. There's quite a crush.
Finally within sight of the stage where satirical skits are being performed. These are a traditional part of the day of the dead festivities, with public figures and arch-types being skewered, often in verse.
And moving on behind the stage ....... Look, food is being prepared for the throng, no surprise ~
Quick pop quiz for those of you who have seen many of my threads on Oaxaca: Who in this picture is not costumed?
And finally away from the crowded fun into the zócalo ~
Tonight the vendors are out on the square, although they may be chased away at any time.
A reminder of bitter events in Oaxaca's recent history -- the struggles of 2006:
Apparently later deaths are also being commemorated ~
Onward the few blocks to where I catch the colectivo home. The streets are lined with stands ~
This sign is at the entrance to a hotel lobby. It's inviting everyone to another comparsa, one in service of preserving the traditions of Oaxaca. People are urged to come costumed as "devils, witches, friars, the society woman, the pregnant nun, the archbishop, the shapeshifter, the widow, the patient, the doctor, the nurse, the hunchback, the weeping woman, the succubus, the hanged man, the radiantly beautiful woman, the usurer, the wealthy rancher, the altar boys, the soul in Purgatory, Death, & many more."
Altar in that same lobby ~
So that's it for October 29. Please come back later to see what the rest of these días festivos have in store.
You seemed to have captured more of the young adults versus children so far this year. I do not recall in previous years seeing their involvement to this extent. They seem to be the most dramatic.
True, I don't have as many pictures of kids this year. I was invited to the same school event as last year, with little Melissa, but had other plans. I'll ask her mom if I can post a picture of Melissa in her witch costume.
There is so much to see that what I've shown in the threads of three different years barely begins to cover this festival.
How old is your nephew & what were his questions?
Thanks, Mossie. I'm so glad you're enjoying this. It's such an exuberant part of the year that I don't think anything else quite lives up to it.
Now, in thread time, it's October 31 or "angelitos", so named because it's the day the dead children come back to visit.
A friend & I went on a picture-taking mission to the Abastos market, with special attention to the flower stalls.
This is neither of us, just a lady on the way home with some very fresh ingredients ~
There are zillions of pictures that still need to be added to this thread, so hope you all are eating your mole like good kids to keep up your strength for viewing.
Speaking of kids, I spoke too soon about not having kiddy pics this year, Mich. I forgot that we ran into a veritable nest of costumed munchkins on the 31st, so stay tuned, please.
NYCGirl ~~ yes, that's absolutely correct! That's a woman from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in her regular garb. If you like quizzes, try the one on Mexico here. It's an odd mix of hard and easy questions. Rest assured that I didn't get them all right!
And, while y'all (eagerly, no doubt) wait for me to get my act together & post more pictures, here is an excellent article giving an overview of the festival.
Oh yes, please keep going. Is there a specific type of flower associated with the dead in Mexico? In France it is the chrysanthemum. Except for some of the dwarf varieties, they can never ever be used in a standard bouquet.
Thanks, Kerouac. The two essential kinds of flowers for this celebration would be cockscomb (Celosia) & marigold (Tagetes). The wild marigolds bloom this time of year & they're used as well. You can see in the photos that the cockscomb & marigolds are the most abundant in the market.
Other flowers are used, but for beauty & abundance rather than having any particular signficance. Chrysanthemums would be included, but only because they're available at this time of year. They have no particular association with death or funerals. I believe we discussed somewhere else about chrysanthemums being placed on graves for All Souls Day in France & also in Louisiana. Someone mentioned the "football mums" used as corsages at Homecoming football games, proving that mums aren't grave flowers all over the US.
Anyway, in thread time it's still October 31st & we're still in the Abastos market, but will be out soon.
Many, many banana leaves are needed for all the tamales Oaxaqueños that will be prepared ~
Here it looks as though we're going outside the market. Actually, we've been outside the whole time. It's just that it's so crowded & densely covered with tarps that it seemed like indoors ~
All of the vendors & stands get moved from their regular places during festival times to accommodate all the extra stuff. We're now in the Tehuana area. These are people (mostly women) from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. They specialize in certain seafoods & cheeses, in totopos, sweet cornbread, & in hot country produce in season ~