Mexican cemeteries come alive as families honour their loved ones during annual ''Day of the Dead'' celebrations. Rough Cut (No reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: On the eve of Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos), thousands marched through Mexico City's Zocalo Square for a traditional parade that kicks off festivities across the country. The colorful "Catrinas" or skulls parade, is centered on outfits, masks and painted faces that showcase ornate skeletons. Formally known as the "Calavera Catrina," the image is a roughly century-old figure that mocks the European mores of Mexico's elite society before Mexican independence in the early 19th century. To this day, the skeleton stands as a symbol of hypocrisy, corruption and misery of society. Those taking part in the 2015 installment of the parade came out to embrace what they see as a quintessential Mexican custom. "We do this so our traditions don't die. We help specifically people who live abroad, and children; we teach them so this tradition doesn't die. Because sadly other traditions come in from other countries. But we have to go with our own, because at the end of it all, we are Mexicans," said Cristina Sosa, who came out for the event. With the parade over, Mexicans then move on to commemorate the Day of the Dead. The annual event holds that the dead return once a year from the underworld. To mark their return, Mexicans construct "Day of the Dead" altars. Burning incense and candles, participants adorn the altars with candy skulls, marigolds, chocolate coffins, papier-mâché skeletons and photographs of the deceased. At the Metepec cemetery, hundreds of candles were lit as Mexicans honored their deceased loved ones. Candles, food and brightly-colored decorations adorned the graves of the dearly departed as families gathered in one of Mexico's most famous traditions. Many families pay for mariachi bands to play for their loved ones. "The music is to remember that life is not only about passing by unnoticed. Music brings you a lot of memories about your loved ones once they have passed. That is why we bring music here for our deceased," Hilario Mejia explained. Fused with the Catholic festivals of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, the Day of the Dead is one of the most deeply-rooted traditions in Mexico. The holiday is celebrated around the country by millions of Mexicans from all walks of life. Offerings range from the somber to the whimsical, with bible verses and skulls decorating the graves. Many relatives also offer "pan de muerto," a cake sprinkled with sugar and decorated to resemble human bones, and tequila to quench the hunger and thirst of traveling souls. Historians trace Mexico's Day of the Dead back to pre-Columbian religious beliefs, such as an Aztec festival to honor Mictecacihuatl, the queen of the Underworld, who the Aztecs believed kept watch over the dead.