Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration this weekend won’t be the same in a year so marked by death, in a country where more than 90,000 people have died of COVID-19.
Many of those had to be cremated rather than buried, and even for those with gravesides to visit, the pandemic has forced authorities in most parts of Mexico to close cemeteries to prevent the traditional Nov. 1-2 observances when entire families clean and decorate tombs, cover them with orange marigolds, light candles and chat with their deceased relatives, perhaps over a glass of their favorite beverage.
On Sunday, many residents of the impoverished suburb of Valle de Chalco, east of Mexico City, visited to a recently opened overflow section of the local cemetery to clean the simple graves of their loved ones — many still just marked by dirt mounds — because they had heard the graveyards would be closed on the actual holiday. “A lot of people came to fix up their (relatives’) graves before the Day of the Dead,” said José Juan Rivera Almazán, the cemetery manager.
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