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How James Bond inspired Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade

How James Bond inspired Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade

This weekend, giant skeleton marionettes, dancers and allegorical floats will flood the streets of Mexico City for a clamorous Day of the Dead festival.

The parade is so steeped with the Hispanic holiday’s iconography that many assume it goes back generations. Except, it doesn’t.

The Mexican capital had its inaugural Day of the Dead parade in 2016 following the release of the James Bond movie, Spectre ( 2015).

For the film, starring Daniel Craig as 007, director Sam Mendez created a Day of the Dead carnival that, until then, was not a tradition in the city.

The film’s introduction sees Bond chasing a rogue villain amidst the chaos of the street parties.

It was a far cry from traditional Day of the Dead celebrations, which generally consist of family gatherings at the graves of loved ones departed.

The following year, the mayor of Mexico City (Miguel Ángel Mancera), decided to capitalise on the scene’s fame, turning fiction into reality.

‘Spectre’ (MGM)
‘Spectre’ (MGM)

Lourdes Berho, chief executive of the government’s Mexico Tourism Board said: “When this movie hit the big screen and was seen by millions and millions of people in 67 countries, that started to create expectations that we would have something.

“We knew that this was going to generate a desire on the part of people here, among Mexicans and among tourists, to come and participate in a celebration, a big parade.”

Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead on 1 and 2 November and, according to the Catholic calendar, 1 November corresponds to All Saints, a day dedicated to dead children (los muertos chiquitos); and 2 November to the faithful departed – the adults.

In pre-Hispanic times, the celebration of death was one of the most common ritual ceremonies in ancient Tenochtitlan culture. When someone died, their body was wrapped in a woven carpet or mat and guided by relatives on their way to the Mictlan, the underworld in Mexica mythology.

The loved ones of the deceased then placed an offering so that they would not suffer hunger on their way to eternal rest. Per the indigenous beliefs, these offerings and celebrations were a way of exalting the living presence of the dead.

The Grand Day of the Dead Parade will take place in Mexico City on Saturday, 4 November 2023. According to the Ministry of Culture, this year, the carnival will start at the Lions Gate of Chapultepec Park.

The event will begin at 2 pm (CST) and will start at Chapultepec and end at the Zócalo esplanade. Contingents are scheduled to arrive at 6 pm. The route will be along Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, Hidalgo Avenue and, finally, downtown.

The capital authorities have stated that “upon arrival at the Zócalo, the ‘Grand Closing’ of the parade will include fireworks, a drone light show and a concert”.