Mexican tradition ‘Day of the Dead’ celebrated London style with parties, movies and music

Throughout November London is hosting a series of events with a Western twist on the Mexican tradition Dia de los Muertos – Day of the Dead.

Its multi-coloured appeal has gained worldwide popularity, with many now opting to honour their lost loved ones with a decorative and celebratory tone rather than with a ghosts and ghouls Halloween.

In venues across London you can paint on a skeleton face and put fairy lights in your hair for themed silent discos, movie screenings, music and deceased arts, food parties, horror and fantasy art experiences and even Day of the Dead bike rides.

In Mexico however, the ritual is slightly different.

Families and friends gather for the holiday and pull together to create a celebration of their ancestors with lavish displays and offerings, at home and in cemeteries.

Ofrendas, which means offerings in Spanish, are set on tiered tables and it is thought that the dead return to visit and rejoice with their families.

Intricate skeleton designs are cut into bright tissue paper and placed upon a white tablecloth.

Orange marigolds are scattered in huge bunches and photos of the deceased often head the presentation on the tier – along with some possessions of the ancestors.

They light one candle for each deceased relative and burn incense which is thought to help prayers rise up to God.

The ofrenda is completed with food and drinks, such as hot dishes, sweet bread, sugared skulls, dried and fresh fruit.

As well as this, all-night vigils are held at the cemetery.

Families take the ofrenda gifts, candles and flowers, and lay them across the graves creating a spectacular glow across the place of rest.

Funny stories about the deceased are told, and musicians are hired to walk around and play until the early hours of the morning.

Perhaps playing music into the early hours of the morning is the only direct activity we have adopted unless you attend one of the authentic rituals; however the nomadic skeleton costumes are enchanting.

Check out the following events in South West London:

Futuro, Brixton 1-2 Nov

Children can make costumes and get their faces painted ready to watch the Mexican sci-fi film the Flying Saucers. Adults can get involved too at a late night screening of The Ship of Monsters, followed by an after party with live music and fuelled with tequila.

Wahaca, Brixton 1-2 Nov

A weekend packed with cross-arts events in true Mexican style. Movimientos and Celluloid Circus will have live acts, DJs and Day of the Dead performers

Day of the Dead Silent Disco at Hill Station Community Cafe, Nunhead

A fabulously fluorescent, luminously ultra Violet, psychedelic silent disco! Your ticket includes Wireless headphones – tune in & turn on, competing DJ’s – wig out to your fave raves, free deadly cocktail, entry into Special Day of the Dead raffle and prizes.

The Book of Life movie, cinemas across the city

This folklore film about Mexico’s Day of the Dead is being screened across London and is for children and adults alike. Directed by Mexican Jorge Guiterrez, is not to be missed during the celebrations.

Picture courtesy of Flood G, with thanks

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