Long live the little dead ones PDF



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Photographs by Yolanda Andrade, Patricia Aridjis, Iván Carrillo, Francisco Mata, Pedro Meyer, Raúl Ortega, Saúl Serrano, Enrique Villaseñor.

Text by Elizabeth Romero


In Mexico there are more than 90 ways to name the Death. Some are pretty obvious: La Pelona (The Bald), La Huesuda (The Bony), La Apestosa (The Stinking); some oth- ers are very accurate: La Hora de la Hora (The Hour), La Igualadora (The Equalizer), La Descarnada (The Scrawny); some other names are loving ones: La Cuatacha (The Buddy), La Flaca (The Skinny), La China Hilaria; some names are defining: La Cargona (The Loader), La Sega- dora (The Harvester), La Chupona (The Licker), some other express respect in their contempt: La Jijurria, La Fregada, La Chingada (all these names could be associated with the expression ‘The Bitchy’.)

A half-caste society, as Mexican society mixes pre-Hispanic and Catholic cults to com- memorate the dead ones. Nowadays it is difficult to determine the exact origin of the different rituals we have, and the exact moment when they made contact with each other and mixed, giving birth to one of the most firmly settled and loved celebrations of the Liturgical Calendar: The Dead’s Day or All Saints’ Day.

This is really a three days celebration that includes October 31st and November 1st and 2nd. Specifically November 1st is called La festividad de todos los Santos (All Saints’ Festivity), that is to say, a major party dedicated to the hundreds of men and women that, according to Catholic Church, reached sanctity due to their good behavior. In November 2nd, we celebrate La conmemoración de los Fieles Difuntos (The Faithful Departed Commemoration), dedicated to all the dead people that lived believing in Christian faith.

These two festivities merge, and they are practically indistinguishable since they include one more day (October 31st) that, according to ancient traditions, celebrates “los muertos chiquitos” (“the little departed”) –baptized children that are also called “angelitos” (little angels”.)


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