By Roberto Ramirez
Mexico City - Hundreds of people donned costumes and face paint, disguising themselves as the iconic Mexican skeleton figure known as “La Catrina” or “Elegant Skull,” and flooded the streets of Mexico City for a pre-Day of the Dead parade.
La Catrina was created by the Mexican illustrator-artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, who died in 1913 but has been an influence on many Latin American artists and cartoonists because the satirical acuteness and political engagement of his work.
The parade took place well ahead of the November 2 date for the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, a pre-Hispanic tradition in which families remember their dead and celebrate the continuity of life.
Mexicans set up offerings to the dead that include photographs, food, candles, flowers, personal items, skulls made of sugar, skeletons of papier mache and sweets.
Parade organiser Jessica Esquivas explained the festival's link to Mexican history by saying, “For us, it's very important to rescue the culture of our country, our tradition, and get back to our roots.”
Participant Edith Gonzalez, her faced painted like a skull and wearing a hat with a black veil, said the parade was a way to make Mexican traditions stand out.
“Well, it's a part of Mexican culture. It's a tradition that is being lost, as it's hard to compete with Halloween,” she said. “The costumes are part of returning to our traditions and that's why we brought our kids to share in this.”
Day of the Dead, also known as All Souls' Day, interweaves Spanish influences with indigenous ancestor worship in Latin America, especially in places with strong indigenous populations such as Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.