The Day of the Dead celebration at Rancho Las Cascadas, the Mexican Highland All Inclusive Guest Ranch, was absolutely wonderful this year. It was truly special to be part of such a rich and beautiful Mexican tradition.
On October 31st, guests made offerings to their deceased loved ones on an alter decorated in marigolds. A small jar of water was placed by each photograph because souls are thirsty after their long journey. Another contained salt, representing the continuance of life. And a third was filled with the favorite drink of each loved one. On November 1st, a candle was lit by each photo to welcome the spirits to the altar. Over the course of three days, other offerings were also added, like little candies and pan de muerto. The spirits cannot eat or drink what is at the altar. Instead, they absorb the aroma and energy of the food, which nourishes their spirits.
Photo 1: On October 31st, guests made offerings to their deceased loved ones on an alter decorated in marigolds.
Photo 2: The Rancho served a six-course meal on November 1st in memory of all our loved ones who have died.
Photo 3: The horses were decorated with marigolds to celebrate.
On the evening of November 1st, the Rancho hosted a six-course dinner in memory of all our loved ones who have died. The feast featured chocolate mole with the main course. Mole is a very special traditional Mexican sauce made of chocolate, chilis, almonds, peanuts, and sometimes up to 40 other ingredients! It is sweet and spicy. A real treat if you haven’t ever tried it.
Bright and early on November 2nd, the guests met by the horses to decorate them with marigolds for an all-day cabalgata (ride). Marigolds symbolize death. Their strong fragrance also helps lead the dead back to their alter. The horses looked absolutely gorgeous as they made their way from town to town and cemetery to cemetery. Even the locals pointed and took pictures!
The all-day ride brought the guests to Canalejas where they enjoyed carnitas for lunch and were able to peruse the market that had been set up along the main street leading to a large cemetery and church. In the cemetery itself, there was a large crowd gathered for a special mass and hundreds of others decorated the graves of their loved ones. The fiesta at the cemetery was a true celebration of life. Fresh flowers were everywhere. Some people were cleaning and re-painting gravestones. And others were sitting by grave sites quietly reflecting. It was a festive time. A true celebration of life.
Rancho Las Cascadas guests representing the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, and other places, traded stories and came to the conclusion that there really is no other similar celebration anywhere else in the world.