October 28, 2005

Your One-Stop Shopping Place for Día de los Muertos

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

If this Día de los Muertos you want to honor your ancestors or those loved ones who have died, at Mercado Municipal, on Calle Segunda, in Downtown Tijuana, you’ll be able to find all the materials you need to build an altar where you pay tribute on November 2.

“I come here to buy little sugar skulls to place on the altar I’m going to build in memory of my grandparents”, said Indira Ortiz, a Tijuana resident who builds her altar every year.

Merado Municipal is an alley with small stores where they sell from incense to religious images, from candy to candles.

In the herb stores, you can buy incense, which is said to purify the air, in addition to little dogs made up of rock which are said to be the guide to the spirits on their way back to Mictlán, the land of the dead.

If you enter Mercado Municipal from Calle Segunda, you’ll encounter all the candy stores full of bees where you’ll be able to find several Día de los Muertos articles.

The most obvious ones are the calaveras, or sugar skulls, in several sizes, the small ones for 10 pesos to the bigger ones that can cost about 50 pesos.

At the candy stores you’ll also find small clay plates that have clay food, which represents the dead person’s favorite dish.

“These are for small altars,” said Javier Hernández, an amployee at one of the cady stores at Mercado Municipal. “These are perfect if you don’t have a lot of room and maybe you want to build an altar in your living room. They’re also good if you want to teach children how to build their own altars.”

On these small plates on sale at Mercado Municipal you can see fake tamales, tortillas with beans and flautas with vegetables, all made up of clay.

You cna also find a variety of piñatas in the form of witches, skulls, and of course, pumpkins.

Some people also put candy on their altars as well as the famous pan de muerto, that is considered the dessert of the dead.

“I put some Ricos Besos candies, because those are the ones my granpa liked,” said Fernanda Perez, a 17 year old student who’s building her altar as part of a school project. “This is the first time that I make an altar and it’s exciting to gather all the material that’s needed.”

At Mercado Municipal there are also the religious items stores where you can purchase candles, paper machie in different colors and images of saints and virgins.

Delia Sierra, manager at one of these stores, said that one of the elements that can’t be missing from an altar are a cross and the image of the saint the dead person loved the most.

“It’s a way to find the spirituality in the person,” she said.

Something funny takes place at Mercado Municipal: Día de los Muertos elements, which a Mexican tradition, are miexed with Halloween elements, which is more American.

This way you can find customes for the night of the witches next to papier machie bags which are used during the day of the dead.

Mercado Municipal is open daily so that you can purchase all the items you need to build your altar.

It is located on Calle Segunda, between Calles Constitución and Niños Heroes, in Downtown Tijuana.

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