The subject of Dia de los Muertos —the day of the dead—may be solemn, but the 3,000 year old festival is all about the joy of celebrating life.
Believing the deceased would be insulted by mourning, families spend an entire day honoring the dead with music, dancing and food. At home, and at cemetaries, families set up ofrendas—colorful temporary shrines, with personal items to remember their loved ones.
In the streets, strings of brightly colored flowers are laid to create a path to guide the deceased from the spirit world back to their family home, to be reunited even if just for a day.
In San Miguel de Allende, the day of the dead is celebrated with the Festival de Calaca, or the skull festival, where the town’s colorful streets are transformed into a fiesta of wild costumes and painted faces.
The Calaca, perhaps the most recognised symbol of Dia de los Muertos, is inspired by La Catrina, or the “dapper skeleton”; a Mexican icon that laughs in the face of death.