Culture

Mexico Knows How To Celebrate And Día De Muertos Celebrations Are Extra Special, Here’s Where You Can Join In On The Celebration

Here’s one thing we know: Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.

The rituals are rife with symbolic meaning. The more you understand about this feast for the senses, the more you will appreciate it. And with celebrations taking place across not just Mexico, but also major cities throughout the US, here’s everything you should know about the major holiday.

But first, what exactly is Día de Muertos?

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. For these pre-Hispanic cultures, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum. The dead were still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit—and during Día de los Muertos, they temporarily returned to Earth.

Today’s Día de los Muertos celebration is a mash-up of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Christian feasts. It takes place on November 1 and 2—All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the Catholic calendar—around the time of the fall maize harvest.

It’s such an important part of the Mexican identity, that UNESCO has recognized it.

Thanks to efforts by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, the term “cultural heritage” is not limited to monuments and collections of objects. It also includes living expressions of culture—traditions—passed down from generation to generation. In 2008, UNESCO recognized the importance of Día de los Muertos by adding the holiday to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Today Mexicans from all religious and ethnic backgrounds celebrate Día de los Muertos, but at its core, the holiday is a reaffirmation of indigenous life.

One of the most popular places to celebrate Dia de Muertos is in the Mexican city of Oaxaca.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

In Oaxaca, you’ll find spectacular markets selling festive items from which locals construct their Day of the Dead altars—look for sugar skulls and specialty food items like black mole. Oaxaca schools have contests for homemade altars, and the city goes all out with elaborate creations like sand tapestries. You’ll also find spontaneous carnival-like processions in surrounding villages and neighborhoods, like Etla.

Ever since the movie Coco, the villages of Michoacán have been ground zero for tourists wanting to experience Dia de Muertos.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

One of the most moving Day of the Dead celebrations takes place each year in Pátzcuaro, a municipality in the state of Michoacán about 225 miles west of Mexico City. Indigenous people from the countryside converge on the shores of Pátzcuaro Lake, where they pile into canoes, a single candle burning in each bow, and paddle over to a tiny island called Janitzio for an all-night vigil in an indigenous cemetery.

The crew of Disney’s Coco also said that the lakeside village served as inspiration for the film, and after visiting I can totally see why.

If you’re in Mexico City, you need to visit the network of canals in the south of the city called Xochimilco.

Take a nighttime ride through the canals of Xochimilco capping with a show narrating the legend of la llorona (The Weeping Woman). This year the spectacle will take place between October 5 and November 18 and will be celebrating its twenty-five years on stage. Also, this event is the only of its kind that has won multiple awards for its efforts in preserving a piece of Mexican history, recognized in 2008 by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Also near Mexico City, is the pueblito of Mixquic which has an incredible and authentic celebration that many say is among the country’s best.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Mixquic, located in the Tlahuac Delegation of Mexico City (southeast of the Mexico City center) has been swallowed up by the megalopolis’s urban sprawl, but retains the ambiance of a rural village with strong indigenous roots. Street stalls are set up in the days before the celebrations. A procession through town with a cardboard coffin leads the way to the cemetery where a candle-light vigil will take place.

Or you can hang out in the city and watch the massive parade.

This year marks the third edition of the Día de Muertos parade — a celebration full of iconic folklore associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

As every year, you can awe over decorated floats, José Guadalupe Posada’s classic catrinas turned into giant marionettes, and Day of the Dead-themed balloons. Contrary to popular knowledge, this parade was not a norm in Mexico City until the release of the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre; in the film, Bond casually weaves through the parade before changing into a suit and pursuing his targets. The scene made an international impact, and Mexico City saw an opportunity to boost tourism while finding a new, fun way to celebrate their beloved holiday.

Meanwhile, in the US, Los Angeles is home to one of the largest celebrations in the world.

You’ll find a traditional Day of the Dead celebration in Los Angeles, on vibrant Olvera Street, home of one of the city’s largest Mexican marketplaces. This area upholds many festive Mexican traditions, commemorating the holiday with face painting, theatrical performances, altar displays, nightly candlelit processions, and more.

While just a few miles away, there is a two-day celebration that takes place at the Hollywood Forever Cemtetary that attracts more than a quarter million people. At L.A.’s most photogenic Day of the Dead celebration, the cemetery grounds are covered with art exhibitions, dance rituals, musical performances, children’s arts and crafts projects and food vendors (and crowds) aplenty. You’ll see altars to the dead created by community artists, and can either watch or participate in the calaca (skeleton) costume contest. This year’s theme honors sacred migrations and the monarch butterfly.

Chicago is another US city that knows how to celebrate the beauty of Dia de Muertos.

Credit: National Museum of Mexican Art

Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art celebrates the Day of the Dead with a special presentation, called Día de los Muertos Xicágo. Families are invited to upload a photo of a loved one they want to remember, which is then projected onto the museum’s exterior during the one-day celebration. Other highlights include a community altar display, traditional foods, face painting, and live performances.

And in Arizona, the city of Tucson has one of the country’s most powerful displays of celebration.

Credit: Rebecca Noble

Tucson‘s All Souls Procession and All Souls Weekend are held just after the Day of the Dead. With more than 150,000 participants walking in the two-mile-long procession, it’s one of the most powerful Día de los Muertos celebrations in North America. Events include a communal urn burning, cultural performances, and art installations.

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Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

Things That Matter

Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

ULISES RUIZ / Getty

Mariachi is officially getting the search engine clout it deserves!

Google Doodle’s latest feature celebrates the musical genre of mariachi. As an ode to the anniversary of the week that UNESCO inscribed mariachi on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The genre of Regional Mexican music goes back to the 18th century.

Google’s latest Doodle features an animated video of mariachi serenading.

Remote file
Google

Singing “Cielito Lindo,” which is a song that encaptures Mexican pride, the doodle features a band of mariachi members.

Together they sing the following lyrics”De la Sierra Morena/cielito lindo, vienen bajando/Un par de ojitos negros/cielito lindo, de contrabando/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Canta y no llores/Porque cantando se alegran/cielito lindo, los corazones.”

The lyrics translate to “From the Sierra Morena/Lovely sweet one, is prancing down/A pair of little black eyes/Lovely sweet one, is sneaking by/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Sing, don’t cry/Because singing makes rejoice/Lovely sweet one, our hearts.”

For the doodle, the mariachi band wears traditional trajes de charro (charro suits) while strumming the traditional instruments of the genre.

Plucking away at the guitarrón, vihuela, and violin, other members use a trumpet and harp. According to Newsweek, “The tradition of mariachi originated in west-central Mexico around the turn of the 19th century, though its exact origins are murky. The musical genre began as entirely instrumental, made up of the sounds of stringed instruments, before vocals and the trumpet were eventually added.”

No doubt Google’s latest Doodle has won over the hearts of various searchers.

“What a beautiful tribute… thank you!” one user wrote.

“The Google doodle for today is a tribute to mariachis & it’s a little video that plays cielito lindo I am not okay, cielito lindo is my favorite mariachi song, it’s too cute,” another commented while another user wrote “I was so shocked when I clicked on this last night. What a wonderful surprise.”

Sweetly, the doodle really seemed to hit home for so many. “The Google Doodle today nearly made me cry,” one very happy user noted. “It was so unexpected and made me miss home for the first time since I moved.”

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Former Nickelodeon Star Drake Bell Has Rebranded as a Latin Artist and People Are Confused

Entertainment

Former Nickelodeon Star Drake Bell Has Rebranded as a Latin Artist and People Are Confused

Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage

When you think of successful Latin music artists, the name “Drake Bell” probably doesn’t come to mind. In fact, the name “Drake Bell” probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of any musician–the man hasn’t been on the radar much since his Nickelodeon went off the airwaves in 2007. But recently, the former teen star has been making headlines for his unexpected career pivot.

Fans were confused when Drake Bell posted a video to Instagram advertising his services on the celebrity “shout out” app, Cameo on Saturday. While the message was run-of-the-mill (find me on Cameo! Pay me money!), the content was what was surprising: Bell relayed the message in both English and Spanish. A deeper dive into Bell’s social media history quickly explained the perplexing post.

Last November, Bell announced on his Twitter page that he would only be posting in Spanish on his social media pages from that point forward.

Shortly after, he changed his profile name from “Drake Bell” to “Drake Campana” (get it?). He also reps a Mexican flag next to his name.

As of now, Bell has released a dual Spanish-English language album called “Sesiones En Casa” with songs named “Fuego Lento” and “La Camisa Negra”. According to Spotify statistics, Bell’s strategy seems to be working. Out of the dozens of songs he’s released over the year, two of Bell’s Top Five streamed Spotify songs are Spanish-language ones.

It seems that Drake “Campana” Bell is truly committing to becoming a full-time Latin pop star.

Bell described his decision in a July interview with Esquire Mexico. ““I wanted to do something with Latin rhythms for my fans in Mexico,” he said. “I wanted to do something like what I have heard on my tours and visits to Mexico. I love writing in Spanish, it is a beautiful language.”

He explained that his love of Mexican culture comes from growing up in Southern California, which is geographically close to the Mexican border. Growing up near Mexico made him “fall in love” with the culture. He also posted a picture to Instagram of his own Mexican ID with a Mexican address, suggesting that he’s made the country his new home.

Photo: drakebell/Instagram

Some fans are skeptical of the timing of Bell’s image re-brand.

Earlier this year, Bell’s ex-girlfriend, Jimi Ono, took to TikTok to accuse the singer of abusing her while they were together from 2006 to 2009. Ono outlined the accusations in a disturbing TikTok video.

@jimiono

This is my truth. I hope this message reaches young girls, and that no one has to go through what I did. #2020survivor

♬ original sound – Jimi Ono

“When I started dating Drake, I was 16. I was homeschooled. I moved in with him,” Ono said. “It wasn’t until about a year when the verbal abuse started, and when I say ‘verbal abuse,’ imagine the worst type of verbal abuse you could ever imagine, and that was what I got. It then turned to physical–hitting, throwing, everything.”

Bell publicly denied the accusations, calling them a “misguided quest for more money or attention”. Other observers have noted that Bell began his re-brand about a year ago while Ono’s accusations become public just a few months ago. So, it seems like Bell’s decision to focus on his Mexican fans had been in the works for a while.

It’s likely we’ll never know the true reasons behind Bell’s decision to become a Latin artist, but it’s most plausible that his sales were simply doing better in Mexico. And if his re-brand was simply a stunt for more attention, well…it’s working.

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