Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate the holiday!

In Mexico the celebration goes beyond trick-or-treat and involves communing with your dearly departed friends and relatives on the Day of the Dead, which is actually on November 2nd. Cemeteries are cleaned and decorated and shrines to the dead are built, sometimes at home and sometimes in public places.

Here's a pic of a beautiful Day of the Dead shrine I saw in Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago. Skulls and often skeletons dressed in fancy party clothes are common sights on these shrines and in celebrations. Skull candy is really popular. Candles and flowers are popular too, especially marigolds which are sometimes called flor de los muertos (flower of the dead).

Like many other holidays, Day of the Dead was originally celebrated by indigenous people in Mexico (some say the Aztecs) two or three thousand years ago. But the holiday got adapted and incorporated into Christian practices and celebrations.

Unlike Halloween celebrations here in the US which tend to focus on the scary and spooky aspects of ghosts and goblins, Day of the Dead takes a positive approach. Those fancy dressed skeletons are happy, and people are pleased to send up prayers and offerings to their dead relatives and friends.

I like this kind of celebration much better! It feels comforting to me to think that my beloved friends and family members are closer to me on one particular day of the year.

Do you celebrate Halloween? What about the Day of the Dead? Ever hear of it or celebrate it? What other unusual holidays do you know about? Please share them with Aunty, who is always looking for more fun things to celebrate!


Helen said...

Aunty Cindy
How interesting I have never heard of this celebration but I too think that it is a good idea. Halloween is starting to be celebrated here in Oz now although not like in The States my grandson Jayden is going to pre school today and is dressing up for a Halloween party and he is so excited he has skeleton gloves and a scary mask and cloak and a plastic scythe he dressed up for me last night to show me what he would look like I got a picture I will get it up on facebook today sometime. All he could say to me last night was I am so excited Nan I am sure he is going to have lots of fun today with his friends.

have Fun

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I look forward to seeing piccies of your grandkids dressed up! That is one of my favorite parts of Halloween, seeing the little ones in costumes.

I'd never heard of Day of the Dead either until my first trip to Puerto Vallarta about a dozen years ago. I really love some of those elaborately dresses skeletons.


Sheila Deeth said...

All we used to do for Halloween was make paper witches on bunches of twigs.