Day of the Dead in San Miguel de Allende
Written by Camie Fenton for Agave Sotheby's International Realty
Dia de los Muertos ‘Day of the Dead’ finds San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage town, draped in marigold garlands where public and home altars are set with sugar skulls, photos of beloved deceased, and laden with foods they loved including a shot of tequila ready to quench their thirst as they return as spirits to share in the joys of the living. It’s an ancient celebration that bridges life and death as danced together on November 1 and 2, traditionally know as All Souls and All Saints Day by the Catholic Church but now morphed into something more.
In San Miguel de Allende it’s a time for residents and tourists, young and old to come together and parade in celebration of those they love who have died, while dressed as ‘Catrinas’, in full ‘Victorian costumes’ with faces elaborately painted as skulls with glitter and sometimes a real tear sparkling as an expression of loss. On November 1 thousands of Catrinas stream into the Jardin, the Town Square, where mariachis play and giant Mojiganga puppets lead the way.As Susan Krals of Salado Texas, who has participated in San Miguel’s Day of the Dead festivities in for years, says “The first word out of my mouth about the experience is – Magic. It is fanciful, funny, irreverent, reverent, somber, sacred, and heartfelt. Like the way we always experience San Miguel. I just keep coming back and bringing friends because you have to live it to understand it.”
Larry Stebbins, a Partner of Agave Sotheby’s International Realty in San Miguel concurs, “Everyone who visits San Miguel quickly discover what so many people love about this cultural destination – the little town with a huge personality – from international award-winning restaurants and hotels to the charms and personality of ‘old Mexico’ found along narrow cobblestone streets. Especially now with the celebration of Day of the Dead with art shows, lectures, live performances, music and grand public parties like the parade of Catrinas."
“When Adrian and I opened Agave Sotheby’s International Realty we wanted to contribute to all that makes San Miguel de Allende a thriving community; the arts, the culture, a robust business sector, and job creation for professional and service employees. Moving to Mexico and especially San Miguel has enriched our lives beyond measure. Just stepping out your door onto the cobblestone streets into the architecture of 17th and 18th century Spain makes for a good day.”
San Miguel de Allende remains a city that can be seen and enjoyed by walking. Sixty-four blocks make up its historic center. Whether Sightseeing or running errands, life seems to pass through in the Jardín (Town Square) in front of La Parroquia, the town’s landmark church where everyone is soon enveloped in the pleasures of San Miguel from hearing the church-bells peal, the music from strolling musicians, the laugher of school children and friendly greetings all around.
For Rosalinda, an engineer from Summit New Jersey who specializes in building bridges, the connection to San Miguel by owning a home in the town’s historic center is their bridge to retirement. “When our family visited San Miguel de Allende we immediately loved the town’s spirit and long history but under that we found an amazing culture and arts scene along with a vibrancy in interior design and decor with well curated stores plus homes we saw all had creative space such as art studios."
“We realized how easy it is to get involved, that expats co-existed in the Jardin, a place where young and old, locals and expats come together. There was a simplicity and tranquility there that touched us. Within 45 days of our visit, working with Larry of Sotheby’s, we purchased a home a few minutes’ walk from the town square, then renovated it. Surprisingly to me, it was easier than I anticipated. The process was a total collaboration that came in ahead of schedule and under budget. The amazing thing about owning in San Miguel is what happened afterwards and unexpectedly – our beautiful home became a rental home when we’re not there. It’s an easy way to have a business. I can run it from all over the world. We are always there in heart and another surprise to us, we now see ourselves retiring in San Miguel from explorations the world over, we now know San Miguel is the place.”