El Día de los Muertos -- The Day of the Dead
1 and 2 November

The first thing one should understand about the Day of Dead is that it is not Halloween, although there are some superficial similarities such as the use of skeletons in decorations and in drawings.  
The concept of the Day of the Dead pre-dates the Spanish by at least a thousand years.  But it was the Spanish, or rather the Catholic Church, that consolidated the practices into what we now celebrate as the Day of the Dead.  It is actually a two-day celebration.   The first day is in memory of those who died as children; the second day remembers the adult dead.  

These engravings of Day of the Dead characters are by the Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada. (1852 - 1913)  They reflect the tone of the day -- one of fond remembrance of happy times.  There is nothing sad about the Day of the Dead.  Nor does it have the spooky feeling of Halloween.

The Plaza is the center of activities in Lerdo for everyday life and especially for holidays.  It receives special attention for El Día de los Muertos with displays of family altars called ofrendas. (ofrenda, literally an offering)

The typical ofrenda has three tiers on which are placed food, flowers, candles and pictures of the person or persons to whom it is dedicated. Other personal items are often included.

Some of these ofrendas around the bandstand in the center of the plaza have elaborate pathways made with wood shavings and flowers.

On the right, notice the tripods made with sugar cane.  Sugar cane is an important traditional part of the Day of the Dead.

The first day of the celebration honors children.

This children's ofrenda was created by school children.

Both days of El Día de los Muertos are school holidays.

Two block-long sides of the plaza are given over to flower vendors.  This is the largest flower sales holiday, even surpassing Mothers' Day and Easter.

Many of the flowers are grown in nearby flower farms located in the valleys of the mountains just west of Lerdo.

This holiday is also the busiest time for taxies as they make countless runs taking people and their flowers to the cemetery.

While there are some flower vendors at the cemetery, the vast majority of flowers are bought here at the plaza.

This is Doña Martha's ofrenda in the same place as the altar to St Jude was last week.

Martha does very little baking, so she does not make the traditional bread for this holiday.  Instead, she made this special version of capirotada with a variety of dried fruit.

The last block of the street leading to the cemetery was closed off to form a pedestrian mall lined with vendors selling food and drink -- elotes (corn on the cob); home made sweets -- slices of cake, cookies, candy and honey; sugar cane; cotton candy; cokes and coffee, etc.  My observation was that few people were buying anything.  People seemed more focused on passing through to the cemetery, often carrying loads of flowers.
I have not seen this many people on the street in Lerdo since the local team (Torreón Santos) won the national soccer championship.  One whole block of a side street was devoted to taxi parking.  Special busses were running from the plaza.  I was lucky to find a parking place only three blocks from the cemetery on the second day.

The cemetery was a sea of flowers.  There were crowds of people -- some decorating graves, some just viewing, and some enjoying a picnic with their departed loved ones.  In parts of Mexico there is a custom to leave food as well as flowers.  I saw no food on the graves here.

And finally, watch this video.

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