Nov. 2, 2020
The streets are lined with marigold petals, people are walking around with painted faces, and candle flames burn in remembrance of our loved ones. El Día de los Muertos is upon us. It is that time of the year to celebrate the lives of family members, friends, and loved ones who are no longer with us in the world of the living.
The Mexican and Latin American folklore holiday has arrived, though this celebration is a little different than those in years past. This year, there are more altars than ever as the COVID-19 death toll continues to rise. It is a Day of the Dead like no other as many are still grieving the loss of loved ones with their presence still fresh in memory.
In Mexico City, the tradition is to gather around at each of the cemeteries sprinkled throughout the metropolitan area to present offerings. This day of commemoration is often accompanied by additional city-wide celebrations such as parades and grand-scale festivals.
However, the looming threat of COVID-19 has spurred the government to cancel all festivals, parades, and public gatherings in efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus. Local police officers stand guard outside cemeteries — with all entrances chained shut — to further discourage public gatherings. The celebration in Mexico City, perhaps the grandest Day of the Dead festival in the world, is significantly scaled back and limited to a series of altars found around the city.
An altar near the Palacio de Bellas Artes commemorates the lives lost due to a recent surge in femicide violence.
Adapting to such an unusual year, many families have opted to spend the holiday in their homes amongst the company of loved ones. All generations gather to remember those who they have lost while also appreciating the company of those who are still around.
A mother’s altar commemorating her parents, siblings, and nephews. The offerings feature the favorite foods of each family member.
And what better a way to bring people together than with the power of homemade comfort food. Large pots are a common sight during family celebrations, while delicious desserts like bunuelos  — sugary, cinnamon fritters — are a perfect way to top off the night after a bowl of posole. Meanwhile, the children run around the house dawning vibrant costumes.
A mother and her son play Lotería together as they compete against the rest of the family.
In a year filled with loss, many spent this Day of the Dead preserving the memory of their loved ones from the comfort of their own home. Enjoying the company of family and cherishing the time spent together provides a brief sliver of light in a currently clouded world.
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