All Souls Eve

On the evening of Dia de los Muertos, lots of folks go to the Pantion General (the  downtown cemetary) to see the crypts and altars, listen to oom pah bands, socialize, and to pay respect to their ancestors.

Other families gather at their village cemeteries, where they have already cleaned up their loved ones’ graves sites. They adorn them with hardy amounts of marigolds, gladiolas, and giant candles… as many as they can afford.  Family members continue to arrive and sit quietly by the graves, visiting in hashed tones, adding even more candles and flowers, listening to music, eating snacks, and contemplating the impermanence of life on this earth…somehow in the context of a joyous celebration.

One year, a procession came by at about 2:00 am, with four men carrying  a huge crucifix and others carrying  adorned banners that seemed ancient.  Everyone stood up silently  and reverently as they slowly made their way through the candlelit cemetery.  We were in awe, knowing that we were witnessing something soulful and magical…somthing that most people from our culture will never experience.

Lots of families stay the entire night and/or return again the next day to continue their vigil with the spirit of their loved ones.

It’s a tradition unsurpassed in its grandeur, depth and celebration, and in many areas of Mexico, it’s a more important holiday than even Christmas!

            I’m honored to have participated so intimately.  It was truly the most beautiful
and touching thing I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life.

For more Art of Remembering, visit Rebecca @ and Stephanie @

~ by Dawn Elliott on October 30, 2011.

14 Responses to “All Souls Eve”

  1. Lovely Dawn. I know what you mean about our culture not “really” experiencing this beautiful tradition. I probably will never get there to experience it so I will settle for our own ofrenda’s and visit other places in this town that participate, although there are not many. Beautiful post Dawn, have a great day.

  2. You were very lucky indeed Dawn, so many beautiful images capture the feel of Dia de los Muertos!

  3. Beautiful photos. Wow……what an
    unforgetable experience.

  4. how honored i am to know that every word you described we shared side by side. so many years to oaxaca, and most recently to san miguel de allende for the holy honoring of dia de los muertos.
    that procession interceding darkness to light was a moment like no other! we are so fortunate to have shared these candle light memories.

  5. What a beautiful cemetary. Very special.

  6. beautiful photos. well told story! thanks

  7. Solemnity-the difference between the DOD celebration in Mexico and here, I think (although the one we have in south valley is solemn-just not soulful). How incredible to witness such an event. It is a shame that the secular here takes it past the event being soulful and fill it with commercialism instead.

  8. What a joy to see. I will remember!!!!!!
    Thank you!

  9. my link

  10. This does sound indeed like a once a lifetime experience, particularly since you were a visitor and didn’t do this every year. Very memorable words and photos.

  11. So many flowers at the cemetary make it look so beautiful. Then at night it is transformed into it’s own beauty.
    Wonderful pictures.

  12. You have beautifully recreated the essence and beauty of the experience. Now I can carry it in my heart. Thank you.

  13. I would love (love) to go see something like this. I beg my daughters yearly to help me find something but I am not even sure there is anything remotely like it. I am amazed with all the flowers among the graves and how it is a community of people who are celebrating.

  14. Our daughter accompanied a friend and her family to their home village in Mexico once, and never has forgotten the tender care they took of the graves, the offerings, candles and flowers. Your post captures so well what Marina described to me- a wonderful tribute to enduring love.

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