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La Catrina parade kicks off Dia de Muertos in Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico — Thousands of people took to Mexico City streets Sunday in honor of La Catrina parade ahead of Día de Muertos.

The mega procession of Catrinas consisted of hundreds dressed in elaborate and colorful displays. The parade was held in celebration of the beginning of the traditional Day of the Dead. Thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch the large-scale event in honor of the country’s most mocked La Catrina icon.

La Catrina’s first name was La Calavera Garbancera and was created by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada. While some claim she was a real woman, others say she was never more than an illustration created by Posada.

Catrina depicts a woman in high-ranking clothes made primarily of a skull. The symbol behind La Catrina was vanity, pointing to the extreme situation between rich and poor and the most privileged in the country.

Using the elaborately dressed Catrina, Posada pointed out that regardless of rank, everyone dies. The Garbancera Skull would become his most famous and critical work.

Over time Catrina’s skull was given an intricately dressed body, however the skull remains the most prominent part of the custom. During the month of October, candied sugar skulls are made in celebration of what the rest of North America refers to as Halloween.

In Mexico, Day of the Dead is celebrated during the first days of November with pan de mureto (bread), sugar skulls, candles and marigold flowers that are used to adorn graves. In Mexico, death is celebrated and used as a way to remember those who have passed. It is not something that is feared, but instead, is a way to remember the mortality in us all.

Those who dress as La Catrina are not celebrating her, but instead are mocking her in death. La Catrina has served as a symbolic character of one of the most important popular festivals in the country, Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

This year the parades will hold special meaning as many honor the victims lost in the September earthquakes.