Butterflies galore in Day of the Dead fest

The living spring to life to honour the dead.

A Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City on Sunday saw performers decked out in monarch butterfly costumes and marked the fourth consecutive year that the city has borrowed props from the opening scene of the James Bond film, Spectre, in which Daniel Craig's title character dons a skull mask as he makes his way through a crowd of revellers.

The Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead has religious roots: Before the Spanish conquest, the Aztecs dedicated most of August to their goddess of death, Mictecacihuatl.

Some indigenous communities believed they could contact their departed family at altars or in caves. As part of the Spanish repression of indigenous beliefs, the celebration was moved to coincide with Catholic holidays such as All Saints' Day.

More recently, Hollywood adaptations of Day of the Dead festivities in movies such as Disney's Coco (2017) have drawn international attention to the holiday, which had fallen into decline in recent decades in Mexico.

The Hollywood attention has also brought greater commercialisation, with products ranging from Day of the Dead Barbie dolls to sneakers, and celebrations sprouting up among non-Mexicans in places such as the United States.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2019, with the headline 'Butterflies galore in Day of the Dead fest'. Print Edition | Subscribe