It's that time of year again

The sugar skulls and skeleton figurines are all over the markets. Even modest holes-in-the-wall that sell street food are decorated with Day of the Dead paraphernalia. If you want to see the real thing on November 1, go to the graveyard next to the La Cuevita church, a few doors down from the Iztapalapa metro station. It's as if you are in a small town: families gather at each gravesite, remembering their dead as they picnic and drink among incense and candles, extravagant bouquets of marigolds and festoons of brightly colored balloons. Mariachis hire themselves out to play the favored songs of the deceased. If you are interested in going beyond the folklore and finding out about the history of death in Mexico, read Death and the Idea of Mexico (Zone Books, 2005), written by Columbia University professor Claudio Lomnitz.