Those who have watched the movie “Dream Traveling” will never forget its appearance that is very different from the usual death-themed movies: warm and saturated colors, interesting stories, and the dead are skeletons with different costumes and different makeup, with richness. His expressions and delicate emotions are warm and vivid.
This is not the whimsical nature of the movie creators. “Looking for Dreams” is based on the Day of the Dead in Mexico. This traditional festival that shows strong Indian cultural characteristics has always been a grand ceremony as important as the local “Spring Festival”.
After a year of suspension of parades and celebrations caused by the new crown pneumonia, from October 31st to November 2nd this year, Mexico City once again showed colorful skulls, floats and singers and dancers like cartoons. They traversed the whole city lively, connecting death and new life, the dead and mortals, longing and courage.
Meet the skeleton again
In a horror movie, once you see a skeleton appear on the scene, it is probably the moment when the atmosphere of horror is full. With the white bones and the hollow eyes without any emotions and the flexible joints, it seems that he is about to come back from the dead and go to hell with the hapless living person.
In the evening, the family will prepare quilts, pillows and various beverages and food, and go to the cemetery to guard the spirit together.
But in Mexico, these are not to worry about. The makeup parade with the image of skeletons as the mainstay can be regarded as the most vivid sign of the Day of the Dead. Remember the 007 movie “The Ghost Party”? The protagonist, Bond, was in the parade of the Day of the Dead. Because he cleverly wore a skull mask, he successfully mixed with ordinary people and escaped tracking.
This is a miniature of the reality of the Day of the Dead. The scary skeletons in other countries have become a kind of culture in Mexico. Here, the skeleton means “the origin of life”-bones, expressionless faces, emptiness… are all the original appearance of life. People respect skeletons and fear the dead.
On the Day of the Dead, you can wear a skull mask like Bond, and there are more ingenious people who will put on a very delicate and vivid skull makeup-bright colors and rich facial expressions, humorous and warm. In terms of clothing, people will also wear costumes related to ghosts and monsters, such as “bones costumes” similar to the body of a skeleton, in line with the masks or makeup on their faces.
Girl with delicate and vivid skull makeup
The streets and alleys are also full of decorations of skeleton elements. The most common are the exquisite skeleton dolls. They grinned and showed the standard “eight teeth” and laughed, and they were dressed up in all kinds of arbitrary appearances: there was no one in front of the store, who was wearing the most ordinary daily The “ordinary skeleton masses” in costumes, long wigs and peasant women hats; in the exquisite carriage, sitting in the exquisite carriage, there are “noble women skeletons” who are dressed in rich, meticulously combed hair and flowers on the sideburns. The horses and grooms of the “women” are also skeletons…
At various places on the Day of the Dead, people try their best to make the design of each skeleton different to show respect for the deceased.
”Not duplicated” sounds difficult, but in fact it is a matter of course. Behind these masks and makeup painted by the living is a simple and sincere depiction of a certain loved one who has passed away in their hearts. Their occupations, habits and hobbies during their lifetime have all become a little inspiration when drawing skeletons, and they are swayed on the tip of the pen.
The atmosphere of the Day of the Dead and the well-designed skeletons will make people believe that while feasting their eyes: the skeleton woman who was sitting at the gate of the store guarding the booth also sat here in the same dress during her lifetime and spent her peaceful life.
Of course, skeletons are not always quiet and sorrowful. The most important “purpose” of the living beings pretending to be skeletons is actually-awakening the undead.
Starting from October 31st, people on the streets of Mexico who are dressed as skeletons must shout, run and jump as much as possible, and make as much noise as possible. They even put on skeleton makeup for their pet dogs, waiting for the barking of these “skeleton dogs” to wake up the sleeping undead together.
In the evening, the family will prepare quilts, pillows and various beverages and food, and go to the cemetery to guard the spirit together. After a day of hustle and bustle, they believed that the deceased who had been sleeping for a year had probably “woke up”, waiting for their families to welcome them home.
In front of the cemetery, people will place carefully prepared altars for the deceased.
The Aztecs believed that grief was disrespect for the dead.
Most of the altars are arranged in several layers. On the top layer, there are photos of the deceased, and the lower layers are filled with some food or other things that the undead liked during his lifetime. The must-haves are Mexican food, candies and sweet bread.
Because the dead are subdivided into two parts: the “Children” festival on November 1st-remembering the dead children, and the “Inspiration” festival on November 2nd-the memory of deceased adults, so on the layout of the altar , Will also highlight the different identities of the deceased child or adult.
If you are an adult, you will definitely have “happy water” such as tequila and cola; if you are a child, you must put his/her favorite toys. In addition, the essentials for each altar are toiletries, such as water basins, bath towels, mirrors, etc., to “catch the wind and dust” to the returned undead.
Marigold is also an element that will definitely appear. The color of Day of the Dead belongs to marigold. In the eyes of Mexicans, marigold is the “flower of death”. Its petals are scattered like the sun’s rays. It can protect the dead and warm and cold tombs. It can also communicate the two worlds of death and life through its special fragrance. In the evening vigil, people will use marigold petals to create a unique “flower path”, allowing the unique smell and dazzling colors of the flowers to lead the undead home smoothly.
At 12 midnight, the church bell rang 12 times, and the time spanning to November 1, the undead broke through the barrier between life and death, followed the fragrance of flowers and rice and the fireworks in the world, followed the thoughts of their loved ones, and returned with joy.
The purpose of the Day of the Dead seems to be reminiscent of the more famous “Ghost Festival” such as Halloween. Although the days are similar, the cores of the two are completely different.
Compared to Halloween, which is a bit gloomy and the main horror, the foundation of the Day of the Dead is warm and lively. Take the “reserved items” of both—for candy, for example, the candy on the Day of the Dead is in the same line as the “skeleton culture”. Almost all are made into the shape of dead objects such as skulls or coffins, “skeleton candy” and “chocolate coffins”. “It is often the most popular candies or desserts during the Day of the Dead.
In addition, “death bread” is also a popular food on the Day of the Dead. Although it is almost the taste of ordinary bread, there is a cross-shaped protrusion on the surface of the bread, which is more crispy to bite, and also represents human bones.
It can be seen from the food that Mexicans are not shy about those elements that can be associated with death, and they are also willing to eat the same food as the undead, and feel a certain intimacy of life and death with the dead relatives.
The spiritual core of Day of the Dead may be traced back to the Mexican “post-classical period” before Columbus arrived in the Americas. Around 1521, the Aztec Empire gradually expanded, and Mexico was also affected by its encirclement of civilization. The Aztecs believe that grief is disrespect for the deceased, and continuous celebration and carnival are the best way to remember the deceased forever. The iconic “Katrina Skull” that shines today on the Day of the Dead is also an image of the queen of the underworld born out of Aztec culture.
The Nobel Prize winner and famous Mexican writer Octavio Paz once summarized the unique perception of death by Mexicans under the influence of Aztec culture: “For people from New York, Paris, or London, They say that death is something they would not mention easily, because the word will burn their lips. However, Mexicans often talk about death. They tease death, sleep with death, and celebrate death. Death is the favorite of Mexicans. One of Mexico’s toys is the eternal love of Mexicans.”
Even if you leave the lively and non-daily Day of the Dead and observe the most common cemetery of Mexicans, you will find that they have a different understanding of death. The cemeteries in Mexico are completely incompatible with “gloomy”, “horror” or even “solemn”. Each tomb looks colorful and very individual, as if it was really “Dream Quest” reflected in reality. The cemetery is not gathered alone in a wasteland, but can be in a residential area, or even next door to an ordinary family. It seems that the deceased never left, but just changed a place and a bed to live.
There is a Mexican proverb, “Hay más tiempo que vida”, which means “death is not the end of life”. Death is not the end of life, forgetting is. Only when a person disappears from the memories of all those who love him can he completely leave this world.
And on the Day of the Dead, with a lively welcome ceremony, the skeleton makeup, candy, flowers and delicacies that repeat year after year tell the people who have passed away:
forgetting is the end of life, and you will not be forgotten. You see, these joyous scenes and meticulous arrangement are all welcoming you back. Death never separates from love, we only meet later when we meet again.