World·Photos

Mexico's Day of the Dead celebrations get an extra dose of Halloween

Hollywood movies, zombie shows, Halloween and even politics are fast changing Mexico's Day of the Dead celebrations, which traditionally consisted of quiet family gatherings at the graves of their departed loved ones.

Tens of thousands turn out to watch 1st-ever Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

A woman dressed in a skeleton costume parades during the annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival at the Hollywood Forever cemetery in California on Oct. 29. Day of the Dead is a festival to remember friends and family members who have died and is celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage living in the United States. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexico City's first Day of the Dead parade.

Mexico's capital held its first Day of the Dead parade Saturday, complete with floats, giant skeleton marionettes and more than 1,000 actors, dancers and acrobats in costumes.

(Mario Guzman/EPA)

Tens of thousands turned out to watch the procession, which included routines like a phalanx of Aztec warriors with large headdresses doing tricks on rollerblade skates.

(Mario Guzman/EPA)

Conserving tradition while embracing change.

Hollywood movies, zombie shows, Halloween and even politics are fast changing Mexico's Day of the Dead celebrations, which traditionally consisted of quiet family gatherings at the graves of their departed loved ones, bringing them music, drink and conversation.

(Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

"It would be hard to conserve these traditions without any changes," said Juan Robles, 32, a carpenter who led the skating Aztecs. "This way, people can come and participate, the young and old."

(Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

A fundamental change in the traditional Mexican holiday?

Add to this the increasing popularity of zombie walks around the Day of the Dead, and the scads of Halloween witches, ghouls, ghosts and cobweb decorations sold in Mexico City street markets, and some see a fundamental change in the traditional Mexican holiday.

(Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

"I think there has been a change, influenced by Hollywood," says Johanna Angel, an arts and communication professor at Mexico's IberoAmerican University. "The foreign imports are what most influence the ways we celebrate the Day of the Dead here."

(Dario Lopez-Mills/Associated Press)

A nude art installation was part of this year's festivities.

American photographer Spencer Tunick takes a picture after people posed nude for his latest art installation to mark the Day of the Dead celebrations on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende on Oct. 28. 

(Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Procession for murdered sex workers.

Mexicans have also changed the holiday themselves, without outside influences, making it a time to express social protest and social causes. Many have erected public shrines for the nearly 30,000 disappeared in Mexico's drug war. Here, people walk in a procession organized by sex workers to remember their deceased colleagues, especially those who were violently murdered.

(Ginnette Riquelme/Reuters)

Marigold flowers harvested for celebrations.

In some towns, families leave a trail of orange marigold petals in a path to their doorway so the spirits of the dead can find their way home. This woman harvests Cempasuchil marigolds to be used during celebrations in Ciudad Juarez.

(Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

'No reason to see it as a contradiction.'

While Mexico's traditional view of the dead was never ghoulish or frightful, some say the changes don't conflict with the roots of the holiday.

(Carlos Jasso/Reuters) (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

"We decorate for the sheer pleasure of it, and to see the smiles on children's faces," says Samuel Soriano, a 35-year-old insurance executive. "We also celebrate Day of the Dead ... There's no reason to see it as a contradiction."

(Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

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