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Graves in the cemetery which surrounds the Church of San Andrés Apostal in the town of Mixquic (on the outskirts of DF) are decorated with cempasúchil flowers, marigolds, candles, and tapetes (carpets) made of colored sand or colored sawdust.

We navigated through the labyrinthine cemetery to observe families huddled in celebration of their deceased loved ones. The cemetery was flooded with the light of thousands of tapers, and the pathway was so tight in spots I felt my pantlegs might ignite.

Over the solemn reflection and intimate exchanges, and outside of the cemetery, a group opposed to the celebration blasted Christian rock. This clash of cultures was interesting but unsurprising; last year in Oaxaca during an intercambio, one man seemed insulted when I asked what he was doing to celebrate Day of the Dead. He admonished, “I said I am Christian.”

This made me realize that as a consumer of cultural events, I am not discriminating. I welcome all sorts of experiences without concern that they will dilute my beliefs.

The balloons decorating a child’s grave, the photographs, the plates of their favorite food and drink help us to remember that although they have left us, our dead are not so far away.

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