Saturday, November 01, 2008

Dia des los Muertos

The Mexican celebration of ancestors, Dia des los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a day set aside to remember the dead. It coincides with All Saints Day, November 1 and All Souls Day, November 2. Like most other holidays, this one comes and goes in our house much like the others, which is to say, without any sort of fanfare.

But, this particular one reminds me of a store in Portsmouth, NH that had the best Dia Des los Muertos paraphernalia — three foot tall handpainted porcelain skeleton dolls. Freakin' awesome ones. I always wanted one because they were wicked cool works of art, but they were also prohibitively expensive.

Apparently, the traditional thing to do is to visit the graves of ones ancestors and leave candles, food, drinks (like tequila and mezcal), and other things to entice the dead. Supposedly on this day, the spirits of the dead can come back from 'the beyond' for a visit if the living show them the way with petals of the cempazĂșchitl, an orange marigold flower. The petals point them in the direction from the grave to the house.

I've collected a lot of marigolds for my card making, but I seriously doubt even if I wanted to, that I would have enough to stretch all the way to the graves of any of my ancestors. Instead., I'll just send a shout out to 'the beyond' for some uncles who died from brain tumors and a maternal grandmother who always made me hot chocolate when I stopped by to warm up on the way home from school.

WallExpress on etsy makes the best 'sugar skull' art. That's one of her sold items above.

1 comment:

The Empty Envelope said...

I love all the artwork. In America, we seem so afraid of death, where other cultures seem to have a much better handle on it. I personally love to walk through graveyards. My mom is buried 1000 miles away but I think of her especially at this time of year (more Thanksgiving - her favorite holiday- and my baby sister's birthday).