The Day of the Dead as it is known in Mexico goes back for centuries and was not celebrated in Northern Mexico until the 20th century, nor the United States. Recently, however, while watching a Phoenix TV channel we noticed two different celebrations happening in the Phoenix area which is relatively new. If you planning to be in Puerto Peñasco the week of October 31st, plan to visit the Cholla Bay Mall or Rodeo Drive as it sometimes called. We have a lot of locals who have spent hours putting this celebration together. Store owners there will put up “Altars” in memory of a loved one who has passed away. Death here is celebrated and is not to be feared.
The altars will consist of 2 different types of flowers as well as things that the deceased person liked like food and alcohol or anything that held special meaning for them. Many of the shops display the Day of the Dead figurines. These figurines are made of porcelain and are like skeletons dressed in brightly colored paints. The all have long boney fingers as you can see from the pictures. These figurines are referred to as Catrinas. The most coveted ones seem to the bride and groom and are difficult to find if you are a collector of them like I am. There are several stores there that sell the figurines as well as Latitude 31 and Mercedes Rusticos in the Old Port both have great selections.
Unlike many holidays in the USA, Day of the Dead is on the same days every year. It coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saint’s Day on November 1 and All Soul’s Day on November 2. In Mexico October 31 is know as All Hallows Day( the day dedicated to the children who have passed).
The shops will start setting up the “altars” on November 2 and 3rd and must be ready for viewing for competition on November 3rd before 4 p.m. There is always music and food at these events. Saturday, November 4th will be the big day and it starts around 6 p.m. This is the day the judging of the altars and Catrinas take place. Locals will also be dressing up as a Catrina and is fun to see. While you are enjoying the culture of this event, you may also want to take time to visit the cemeteries to see how the graves are decorated for the deceased. It is here where parties are held for the family members who have crossed over.
While you are in Rocky Point, stop by LEY’S grocery store for your Sugar Skulls and Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead bread). The sugar skulls are also a huge part of the celebration and are usually small and are made of sugar or what looks like sesame seed. In the south of Mexico, the skulls are made from chocolate as well and are giant works of art. Stop by Playa Bonita and see the altars in the lobby and restaurant.