Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dia de los Muertos

My Dia de los Muertos skull candle-holder and t-shirt.

Though I don't actively celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), I like the idea of the holiday, to remember, honor, and communicate with the dead, rather than run screaming from them. In Mexico, and other countries that celebrate Day of the Dead, the holiday is for inviting the dead back for a day for food and drink, music and laughter, and maintaining the connection between the world of the living and the world of the dead. In contrast to other cultures in which the subject of death is avoided, Day of the Dead offers a whimsical view of death using humorous skeleton sculpture and paintings, poetry, special holiday foods, and festivities. Music is commonly represented in the skeleton artwork, but I am not familiar with specific Day of the Dead songs. Sol y Canto, a Latin American band that performs in the Boston area, talked and sang about the holiday on a recent WUMB broadcast, but I only heard a small portion of the show.

The holiday does have its grisly aspects. According to Wikipedia, "in the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth." Now skulls are made of sugar and are made as a welcoming treat for both the returning dead and the living.

Because our family and extended family includes people from Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatamala, I feel a vague connection to this Mexican holiday. I used to produce a musical and educational Latin American Festival in Boston. I bought the t-shirt on a visit to Olvera Street in Los Angeles, while visiting relatives there. And, this year, I think I might honor my parents with a Day of the Dead remembrance, even though they were Irish and Hungarian. Hope yours is a good one, should you celebrate!


Marisa said...

Your parents were Irish and Hungarian? How weird, so were mine.
Synchronicity strikes again.

Maricello said...

Very interesting!