The elegant and stylish "Catrina" is by far one of the most popular symbols of Mexican culture. She is most often seen dressed to the nines in an ornate hat and matching gown. She sometimes carries in her long and delicate fingers an umbrella. And often by her side is her equally exquisite "Catrin" -or dandy man.
The indigenous people of Mexico have been honoring their dead for over 3,000 years, a ritual which the Spaniards unsuccessfully tried to eradicate during the Conquista. They were however able to give commencement to a more "Christian" festivity, the Day of the Dead.
During the early 1900's, the Mexican artist and renegade Jose Guadalupe Posada was regarded as the voice of the common man. He caricaturized figures such as skeletons of the rich and fashionable, to show the people's despair and skepticism for the corrupt dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. The skeleton became a staple of Mexican imagery and was quickly adopted and used especially during the now world renown Day of the Dead celebrations November 1st and 2nd.
In Mexico and unlike most cultures, death is seen as a continuation of life. For several weeks preceding the Day of the Dead, families build complex altars in their homes to honor their loved ones that have passed. Hotels, restaurants and boutiques pay their dead homage as well. Altars are decorated with images of the deceased, marigold flowers, and small servings of their most liked foods. Even their favorite music is played in the background! On November 2nd, all Saints Day, the loved ones' gravesites are visited and picnics are had in the cemetery in celebration of their life once had.
Mexicans love their dead too much to let them go. The Catrina, immensely popular and desirable in Mexico, is just another way to reminisce them.