Mexicans here put their traditional celebration on display

A flower cross resembles a gravesite. A.M. Costa Rica/Zach McDonald

Hundreds came together to celebrate the only night dedicated to the deceased, Dia de Los Muertos, at the Instituto Mexico in Los Yoses, Wednesday.

The center and the Mexican Embassy hosted a night filled with Mexican customs for this much-awaited day. The event included decorations and gastronomy. Pan de muerto, sugar skulls, papel picado, marigold flowers, ofrendas, niches and altares are recognized symbols of Dia de los Muertos, not to mention Mexican traditional dishes such as tortas, flautas, posole, and enchiladas.

The corridor to the patio was an altar to Mexican folk hero, the comedian/actor Cantinflas. He died in 1993. At the entrance there was a movie of the respected artist projected on a screen. The walls of the walkway sported colorful papel picado and framed pictures of Cantinflas from famous scenes of his movies.

The Cantinflas exhibit ended with an altar in his memory, a giant framed headshot and a table filled with his favorite things, also known as ofrendas to the dead. His remembrance did not end because the room opened up into a patio where visitors enjoyed Mexico’s traditional food, drinks, candy and day of the dead specialties.

One room was filled with traditional Dia de los Muertos decorations. The first half of the room showcased framed pictures of the same holiday in Mexico, a glass case shaped as a cross with a miniature cemetery (very “Nightmare Before Christmas”), life-size paper skeletons embellished in custom clothes, sombrero and braided hair.

In the other half of the room lights were turned off, and the only illumination came from candles on stage. There lay on the floor a giant cross made out of flowers that resembled a grave outlined in white candles. At the top of the cross were three long steps. Every step displayed certain festivities with dressed-up skeletons in make-up, flowers, booze, fruit and pan de muerto.

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on Nov. 2, and is highly regarded and celebrated in Mexico in honor of loved ones. Other countries celebrate this day a little different. In Guatemala, people go to the cemetery and clean up the graves and eat fiambre, a special salad. This plate is only eaten once a year on Nov. 2. In Costa Rica, the celebration is more religious. Costa Ricans attend church, and some go to the cemetery, but it is not very common to see a celebration like in Mexican culture.

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