Buying Death and Laughing at It in San Miguel de Allende
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated with gusto in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The practice of building altars to invite dead loved ones to return home for a few hours is deeply rooted here. The traditional decorations for these altars have deep symbology, overlaid more recently with bits of whimsy. Marigold flowers and candles, sugar skulls and oranges share the space with bottles of beer or tequila, packs of cigarettes, and colorful paper banners of "papel picado." Anything that might lure the loved ones home is added to the altar. All these items and more can be purchased at the colorful and lively Day of the Dead Market in San Miguel. The market sets up a couple of weeks before the November 1st holiday in the Soledad pedestrian area just below the Plaza Civica. The holiday and decorations may be about death, but the celebration is about life and living it to the full while remembering those gone. The DOD market has a joyous spirit that reflects that. Shop for traditional cookies and candies, like coconut bars and "jamoncillo" in fanciful shapes. Take home souvenirs of elaborately decorated sugar skulls, miniature skeletons and flying witches, tiny cardboard coffins from which a skeleton pops up like a jack-in-the-box, or a beautiful "Catrina" figure, the skeletal but always elegant lady in the wide-brimmed black hat. As always and everywhere in Mexico, street food abounds at the DOD market. Open late into the evenings until Day of the Dead.
By Donna Meyer