Dia de los Muertos – South Valley Albuquerque

The religious observance called All Souls’ Day falls on November 2 and is also known officially in the Catholic church as The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. When and where this Christian feast day was first observed is open to debate but it seems that it dates back about 1,000 years in one form or another. The official church name, The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, is celebrated as Day of the Dead in many countries. Some places observe the day with quiet and reserved visits to the cemetery to decorate family graves. Some other countries, notably Mexico and some Hispanic areas of the US, celebrate in a more expressive way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe heavily Hispanic South Valley neighborhoods of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County hold a community-wide observance highlighted by the “Muertos and Marigold Parade” but the celebration includes people from all over Albuquerque, whether Hispanic, Indian or Anglo. This is a mixture of reverent remembrance, community solidarity and raucous celebration of life. To a non-religious person this might look simply as a continuation of Halloween but it has the deeper religious meaning and is partially rooted in old Aztec memorial celebrations. The skull and skeleton disguises are more modern and date to the early 20th century and illustrations of Jose Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican political and social cartoonist.

My daughter recently moved to Albuquerque and works in the South Valley and has been recently immersed in some of the local culture much to her joy and admiration. The community seems to exude a feeling of belonging and family in a broad sense that is generally missing in most US communities.  I live about fifteen miles north close to the little town of Bernalillo (c. 1693) where there are similar feelings of a close-knit community and family roots.

We were looking forward to the Dia De Los Muertos but the weather was unsettled and we had frequent rain showers but the rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Marigold Parade. Here are a few pictures from the parade. The theme was “¡El agua es la vida! ¡No se Vende! ¡Se defiende!” — there is an unpopular plan to redirect (sell?) some of the local water supply away from South Valley which is heavily agricultural.

FACES IN THE CROWD…about half of the crowd was dressed for the occasion. Some were quite formal while others were more casual.

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THE PARADE — First we expel the unwanted spirits…

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Make room for the departed souls…

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Don’t forget the departed pets….

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Speak your mind…

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Seek justice, social equality, legal rights…but have a good time, too.

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You can never have too many old or modified cars…..

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This is a long parade that travels a relatively short distance…only about eight or ten blocks…and ends at the West Side Community Center. The rain held off until the parade was over but it got pretty wet later. One of the best parades I’ve seen.

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