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Mexico faces death with a lively celebration

Día de los Muertos

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You are dead. Friends and family members have gathered around your tomb. You can hear them out there, and they aren't crying. Instead, it sounds like they're partying.

But luckily they're partying for your soul because you are in Mexico and it's Día de los Muertos.

The Day of the Dead, as it's called in English, is a Mexican custom celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2. The days mark the minor Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, but the festivities have roots in the indigenous Aztec culture. Unlike our Puritanical ways of honoring the dead — somber faces, black veils, and casseroles — Día de los Muertos does it differently.

Elaborate female skeletons known as Catrinas fill the main squares along with yellow marigolds, known as cempazuchitl, or the Flower of the Dead. Joseph Weyers, a Spanish professor at the College of Charleston, traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, for the celebration last year.

"The idea of death is very different from the way we see it in the United States and the way it's seen in many Western societies," he says. "There is a strong belief in reincarnation and that this life is just one of many and that death is just a rite of passage onto whatever comes next."

Instead of a call to mourning, Día de los Muertos celebrates life via raucous music, lively dancing, and — of course — eating and drinking. One traditional dish is Pan de Muerto, or dead bread. Bakers tint the distinctive sweetbread green to look moldy.

At La Tapatia Bakery in Hanahan, Macarena Sanchez says she and her friends don't really celebrate Día de los Muertos in America, but some others do. Come late October, the orders start coming in for Pan de Muerto. Sitting behind a counter at the bakery, Vellia Varriento says she usually gets around 70 to 80 orders. Some folks come in to buy candles. Varriento just shrugs her shoulders and laughs when asked if the holiday is a big deal around here. Not so much.

But bars are always looking for an excuse to get people in to drink and party down, and Día de los Muertos will be a big deal at Yo Burrito on Nov. 1, when DJs Robert Rice and BLKMRKT will be spinning music and Lanazul tequila will be flowing. Keep an eye out for other bars like Cha's Cha's and Taco Boy, which usually host their own festivities.


Raise hell on the Day of the Dead

Pour one out for your homies at these Día de los Muertos celebrations happening around town. Salud.

Mex 1 Coastal Cantina
817 St Andrews Blvd. West Ashley (843) 751-4001 mex1coastalcantina.com

Margaritas
223 N. Main St. Summerville (843) 871-0078

Guadalupe Grill
1220 Ben Sawyer Blvd. Mt. Pleasant (843) 284-8745 guadalupegrill.com

3 Matadors Tequileria
2447 Ashley River Road West Ashley (843) 414-7894

Yo Burrito
77 Wentworth St. Downtown (843) 853-3287 yoburrito.com

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