What does Day of Dead means?
The Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico varies from region to region, but it is not a religious celebration, it is rather an ancestral expression of our “Memorial Day” adorned with the Mexican spices and flavor.
The celebration changes a little from town to town, but they all have a common principle: the family union. The family gets together to build the altars and offerings, visits the cemetery and decorates their love ones’ graves, while doing so, the family welcomes the souls of their ancestors, sits down to the table to share a meal and reminisces about their memories.
The most representative element of the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico is the altar with its offerings. These altars are very personal and a representation of their vision of death, full of allegories and meaning.
In places like Central Avenue, where this tradition is more entrenched, the altars begin to take shape on October 28th, many residents and business owners enter a contest organized by the Central Avenue Betterment Association and display their altars to the public. The celebration reaches its peak on November 2nd when the community comes out onto the avenue and celebrates with a jovial spirit the visit of their love ones. The community decorates the street with colors, kids line up to get their calavera painted on their faces, musicians and performers are playing every few feet and delicious food is served right and left while everyone waits for the night parade to start!
In the Mayan culture exposing the skull of a dead body expressed a rebirth to the afterlife. The “Calaveritas” or little skulls have their roots in the tzompantli, an altar used by the Mesoamerican peoples to represent the deceased.
People also adopted the representation of skulls by painting their faces with spectacular designs, adorned with allegorical figures, colors and designs that accentuate the structure of the skull that we all carry below the skin, reminding us that beauty is soft and weak like our skin but the Spirit is strong and lasting like our bones.
During the celebration in Central Avenue, volunteers decorate the faces of hundreds of people throughout the day’s long program. Children and adults enjoy the colorful face painting in a representation of “Calaveras” in acceptance that dead is inevitably the step to the next life where our spirit reigns.
The Catrinas, have become the object of worship in many parts of the world and serve as a costume to celebrate this day in many countries, including as noted the United States. With the combination of skulls and flowers this character is so enticing that today it has become a symbol of these festivities outside of Mexico including Wyandotte County. In the past, the word “Catrín” defined an elegant and well-dressed male, usually from the aristocracy, which was accompanied by an astonishing woman, “La Catrina”. The working classes of Mexico used these images as mockery, emphasizing the fact that, regardless of wealth, death comes to everyone and everyone ends up wearing a skull.
La Catrina as such, is an image with more than 100 years of history created by Mexican cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada. During the 50’s the muralist Diego Rivera baptized her as “La Catrina” and gave this art wide promotion along with Frida Kahlo.
Today, this version of skull mask with flowers, mystical and beautiful at the same time is a source of inspiration. Social networks have turned this symbol into a universal brand of Mexican Culture. The best way to enjoy it locally is to visit the celebration of Day of the Dead in Central Avenue KCK and take many pictures surrounded by the many living Catrinas that will walk the festival during this November 2nd.
The Day of the Dead Parade
A new tradition in the Celebration. For the third time, the Day of the Dead Parade will be held in Wyandotte County. In this nighttime parade you will see monumental skulls, floats and Catrinas dancing on Central Avenue from 6th street to 15th street.With more than 30 floats the parade will evoke the historical stages of Mexico from the pre-Hispanic era to the present times, this will include local participants, local businesses, motorcycle clubs, custom cars and dance groups. A spectacular live show will be taking place on 4 stages from where local artists and musicians will entertain the crowd while waiting for the parade. More than 200 volunteers will help produce one of the most anticipated parties for everyone in the community. Makeup modules will be installed along the parade route and makeup artists will treat the attendees with skull face painting. The fantastic lineup of local Mexican restaurants and local vendors from La Placita Market at Bethany Park will delight everyone’s taste buds.
The inspiration for this parade came from the big screen, when scenes from the movie “Specter” from the James Bond saga were shot in Mexico City, many in the big city took it to hearth and the first parade was produced 4 years ago. 3 years ago, the same inspiration was picked up in Kansas City, Kansas by the Central Avenue Betterment Association with the idea of offering something spectacular from the Mexican community to the entire city.
This year the residents of Kansas City, Kansas expect a huge procession of visitors and the participation of many new faces. “The production of the parade will be epic,” said Edgar Galicia, Director of the Central Avenue Betterment Association. “This third edition of the parade will happen with many more participants and perhaps this time we will have some spectacular surprises, what I can say is that our volunteers are very excited and ready to celebrate in a phenomenal way”