Mexico, Peru ans Haiti Day of Dead
Mexicans returned to public celebrations of the Day of the Dead holiday Monday after the pandemic forced the closure of most cemeteries last year. In some smaller villages around Lake Patzcuaro in Michoacán state, residents were trying to preserve their renowned, authentic traditions passed down for hundreds of years in the face of tourism. In Haiti, hundreds of revelers clad in white and clutching candles crowded into Haiti's National Cemetery on Monday to pay their respects to the dead during an annual Vodou festival. Many in the crowd surrounded the tomb of the first person buried in the Port-au-Prince cemetery, believing it contains the guardian of the dead, known in Haitian Vodou as Baron Samedi. Followers offered candles and money to a Vodou priest dressed in black and wearing a white hat who stood upon the tomb as he carved a cross into the candles with his fingernail and murmured something under his breath before giving them back. Nearby, people filled up wooden bowls with plantains, fish, bread, avocados and anything else they thought their dead relatives or friends might appreciate. They also poured black coffee into the ground as an offer. Some even requested that the deceased share upcoming winning lottery numbers in their sleep. Others carried jugs of a moonshine rum known as cleren with hot peppers marinating inside. Vodou is an official religion in Haiti, where it is practiced widely in the country of more than 11 million people. It was born in the 16th century when slaves from West Africa who were forced to practice Catholicism combined the saints with spirits in African religions. The celebration comes as Haiti's misery and violence deepens, with the country struggling to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southwest Haiti in mid-August and killed more than 2,200 people. Peruvians had hoped this year they'd be able to resume their Day of the Dead traditions of visiting the gravesites of their loved ones. But health and local authorities decided to close most cemeteries in Peru to prevent a third wave of COVID-19, which has already claimed the lives of more than 200-thousand people. The Nueva Esperanza cemetery on the outskirts of Lima, known as Virgen de Lourdes, is among the largest in the world, with over one million tombs, and it's located in one of Lima's most impoverished neighborhoods. Some residents attempted to climb hillsides and use other unauthorized passages used to gain entrance but were stopped by armed security forces. Visiting loved one's tombs on the Day of the Dead is a tradition for many in Peru and other Latin American countries. People tend to eat and drink and pay tribute to the deceased on the Day of the Dead every November.