Ya, ya, ya, we know. We’re a bit behind in sharing blogs. Settling in, a few house guests, and navigating holidays in Merida put us a bit behind. We’ve got a lot more to share and will work hard to post on a more regular basis. Happy New Year, we can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store!
Our home is only about six blocks from Merida’s General Cemetery. And leading up to the Dia de Los Muertos, there is a huge procession called Paseo de las Animas.
Paseo de las Animas loosely translates to ‘walk of the souls,’ and it passes within a half block of our house!
Merida’s Cementerio General
Merida’s Cementerio General has a history dating back to 1821 and has changed considerably since that time.
The main drive of the cemetery is lined with mausoleums. They say the cemetery has nearly 120 mausoleums that vary in their vaults. Many were built by the same millionaire families with mansions along Paseo Montejo. They were often made to look like the places where they lived so that the deceased wouldn’t feel alone.
That is why most of the mausoleums in the Cementerio General have different architectural styles. Many were built with materials brought from Europe.
There are also as many as 2,000 ossuaries, where ashes or dry remains are held.
When we visited Savannah, Georgia, last year, we took a fantastic tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery. Our guide told us about the incredible symbolism of graves. While much of the iconography differs in Merida, the ideas are the same and hold meaning for families.
Crosses, crucifixes, and angels are found everywhere. We also saw a lot of angels of silence, with a finger in the mouth and another pointing to the sky as a sign of respect. There are also the angels of pain, which are accompanied by a cross and where the pain is reflected in his face.
We also noticed a lot of brightly colored graves, as well as a number of graves that resembled humble Yucatecan homes with thatched roofs.
Destruction and Neglect
As diligent as many families and organizations are with the upkeep of the cemetery and graves, sadly, many are in disrepair.
Families may be long gone or have moved away. In other cases, trees have sprouted up, toppling over graves or pushing them off the foundations.
Paseo de las Animas
Right around our holiday of Halloween or All Hallows Eve, Mexicans celebrate Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. In the Yucatan, it is Hanal Pixan.
Paseo de las Animas or the Walk of Souls, is part of the celebration. It represents the departure and procession of the souls to the world of the living.
Homes throughout our neighborhood are decorated with Ofrendas. An ofrenda is an altar dedicated to departed loved ones. They are decorated with photos, personal belongings, food, drink, flowers, and candles.
Disney’s animated movie Coco gives great insight into Dia de Los Muertos and the traditions and customs in Mexico.
Yucatecans dressed in traditional attire paint their faces and walk from the cemetery to the Church of La Ermita and then on to Parque San Juan.
The procession comes from the cemetery up Calle 66 to La Ermita and is within four houses of our new home. Rumor is they used to come down Calle 81 right in front of our house.
We really enjoyed the festivities and the families gathering for a night of food, celebration, and remembering departed family members with their ofrendas.
It was pretty impressive, and we can’t wait for next year!