2020 brought a different “Day of the Dead” to Mexico

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Mexico’s usually ebullient and colorful Day of the Dead celebration was quieter and lonelier than usual, with many cemeteries closed to visits because of fears of spreading the coronavirus.

Mexican families often visit graveyards to decorate their relatives’ tombs with flowers and sing, talk and snack during the Nov. 1-2 observance. But this year, most had to make do with the traditional home altars that bear a photograph of the deceased and their favorite food, along with candles and marigold petals.

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In a break with tradition, some altars of covid-19 victims also included urns with their ashes.

That was the case of the altar to Dr. Guillermo Flores, one of over 1,700 medical personnel in Mexico who have died so far from covid-19. He was the head of the intensive care unit at a local hospital and died Oct. 13 after battling the disease for a month.

“I never thought this year’s altar would be for him,” said his wife, Alexandra Valverde. Immigrants from Ecuador, where ceremonies for the dead are more solemn, the couple didn’t do much in previous years to mark the Day of the Dead.

Flores’ ashes lie in a white urn on the altar, which also commemorates his relatives. Still in mourning, the family doesn’t know yet where they will put them.

While most Mexicans still choose to bury their relatives, the pandemic — which has killed over 90,000 people in Mexico — has made cremation a more common option.

Nor has their ever been a disease that has taken such a toll on medical personnel.

For her altar, Mexico City resident Kenya Navidad made a traditional paper figure depicting the profession of the deceased: a small figure in a blue surgical gown and mask. It was for her husband, Daniel Silva Montenegro, a doctor who died from symptoms related to covid-19.A musician rests on a grave at the Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery amid the new coronavirus pandemic, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Mexican families traditionally flock to local cemeteries to honor family members who died as part of the "Day of the Dead" holiday, every Nov. 1 and 2, but according to authorities cemeteries will be closed this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

A musician rests on a grave at the Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery amid the new coronavirus pandemic, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Mexican families traditionally flock to local cemeteries to honor family members who died as part of the “Day of the Dead” holiday, every Nov. 1 and 2, but according to authorities cemeteries will be closed this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)Eulogia Herrera lights candles on a Day of the Dead altar featuring pictures of her daughter Mariana Luna Herrera who she said died of complications related to COVID-19, and who also had leukemia, at their home in Valle de Chalco on the outskirts of Mexico City, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Mexican families traditionally flock to local cemeteries to honor family members who died as part of the "Day of the Dead" holiday, every Nov. 1 and 2, but according to authorities cemeteries will be closed this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)Eulogia Herrera lights candles on a Day of the Dead altar featuring pictures of her daughter Mariana Luna Herrera who she said died of complications related to COVID-19, and who also had leukemia, at their home in Valle de Chalco on the outskirts of Mexico City, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Mexican families traditionally flock to local cemeteries to honor family members who died as part of the “Day of the Dead” holiday, every Nov. 1 and 2, but according to authorities cemeteries will be closed this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)Dancers dressed in traditional costumes perform during an Aztec ceremony to honor of the thousands of residents from the Iztapalapa district who have died from complications related to COVID-19 in Mexico City, Friday, Oct. 30, 2010. Mexico's Day of the Dead celebration this weekend won't be the same in a year so marked by death, in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)Dancers dressed in traditional costumes perform during an Aztec ceremony to honor of the thousands of residents from the Iztapalapa district who have died from complications related to COVID-19 in Mexico City, Friday, Oct. 30, 2010. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration this weekend won’t be the same in a year so marked by death, in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)A Day of the Dead altar adorned with candles and skulls sits inside Senate in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration won’t be the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

A Day of the Dead altar adorned with candles and skulls sits inside Senate in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration won’t be the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)A man, wearing a protective face mask amid the new coronavirus, burns incense during a Day of the Dead ceremony at the Mexico's presidential palace in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The weekend holiday isn't the same in a year so marked by death in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19, many cremated rather than buried and with cemeteries forced to close. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

A man, wearing a protective face mask amid the new coronavirus, burns incense during a Day of the Dead ceremony at the Mexico’s presidential palace in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The weekend holiday isn’t the same in a year so marked by death in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19, many cremated rather than buried and with cemeteries forced to close. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)People carry the coffin that contains the remains of a relative at the Valle de Chalco Municipal Cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration this weekend won’t be the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)People carry the coffin that contains the remains of a relative at the Valle de Chalco Municipal Cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration this weekend won’t be the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)A patio inside the presidential palace is decorated with the traditional colors of Day of The Dead, with the Spanish message "A flower for each soul," in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The holiday isn't the same in a year so marked by death in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19, many cremated rather than buried and with cemeteries forced to close. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

A patio inside the presidential palace is decorated with the traditional colors of Day of The Dead, with the Spanish message “A flower for each soul,” in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The holiday isn’t the same in a year so marked by death in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19, many cremated rather than buried and with cemeteries forced to close. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)A man who works decorating graves for Day of the Dead waits for visitors to Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration this weekend won’t be the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

A man who works decorating graves for Day of the Dead waits for visitors to Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration this weekend won’t be the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)A paper skeleton dressed as a doctor adorns a Day of the Dead altar for Daniel Silva Montenegro, a doctor who died from symptoms related to COVID-19, made by his wife Kenya Navidad at her home in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The weekend holiday isn't the same in a year so marked by death in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19, many cremated rather than buried and with cemeteries forced to close. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

A paper skeleton dressed as a doctor adorns a Day of the Dead altar for Daniel Silva Montenegro, a doctor who died from symptoms related to COVID-19, made by his wife Kenya Navidad at her home in Mexico City, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The weekend holiday isn’t the same in a year so marked by death in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19, many cremated rather than buried and with cemeteries forced to close. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)Salvador Cervantes Torres, center, a recovered COVID-19 patient, and his family pose for photos on a Day of the Dead altar for his wife Ivone Guadalupe Lozano Garcia and his mother in law Silvina Garcia, who died of complications related to coronavirus, at their home in Ecatepec, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexican families traditionally flock to local cemeteries to honor family members who died as part of the "Day of the Dead" holiday, every Nov. 1 and 2, but according to authorities cemeteries will be closed this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)Salvador Cervantes Torres, center, a recovered COVID-19 patient, and his family pose for photos on a Day of the Dead altar for his wife Ivone Guadalupe Lozano Garcia and his mother in law Silvina Garcia, who died of complications related to coronavirus, at their home in Ecatepec, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Mexican families traditionally flock to local cemeteries to honor family members who died as part of the “Day of the Dead” holiday, every Nov. 1 and 2, but according to authorities cemeteries will be closed this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)A girl is surrounded by women dressed as "Catrinas" during a performance to demand justice for victims of femicide on Day of the Dead in Mexico City, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

A girl is surrounded by women dressed as “Catrinas” during a performance to demand justice for victims of femicide on Day of the Dead in Mexico City, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)A portrait of Dr. Guillermo Flores, who died from symptoms related to COVID-19, is placed on a Day of the Dead altar made by his wife, Alexandra Valverde, at their home in Mexico City, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. He is one of more than 1,700 Mexican health workers officially known to have died of COVID-19 who are being honored with three days of national mourning on these Days of the Dead. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

A portrait of Dr. Guillermo Flores, who died from symptoms related to COVID-19, is placed on a Day of the Dead altar made by his wife, Alexandra Valverde, at their home in Mexico City, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. He is one of more than 1,700 Mexican health workers officially known to have died of COVID-19 who are being honored with three days of national mourning on these Days of the Dead. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)Seen from the bottom, workers clean a grave after removing a coffin to replace it with another on Day of the Dead at the Valle de Chalco Municipal Cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Mexico's Day of the Dead celebration isn't the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Seen from the bottom, workers clean a grave after removing a coffin to replace it with another on Day of the Dead at the Valle de Chalco Municipal Cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration isn’t the same in a year so marked by death after more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Source: Arkansas Online

Mexico Daily Post

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