Great White Snark: La vida dulce.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

La vida dulce.

In my mind when I planned this month of Halloween, I had long, scholarly articles going on like, every other day. Instead, I realize you've been inundated with bad 80's movie trailers and pointless images.

Well, fear not, Scholarly Readers. Today, you're getting SCHOOLED.

I am going to talk about Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, which kind of tends to get lumped in with Halloween, but has absolutely nothing to do with it. Still.

So Dia de los Muertos is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Mexico and within Mexican cultures. The days for the celebration fall on November 1 and 2, falling in with the Catholic feast days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Apparently, the celebration had Aztec origins, and once the Spanish conquistadors conquered Mexico and Central America, the holiday was rearranged to coincide with Christianity.

Families on this day traditionally honor the dead. Specifically, their dead. It is believed on these days that the dead are more communicative, or that the barriers between life and death are weaker and therefore, they can hear and see the activities of the loved ones left behind. The family usually spends some time near the gravesites of their deceased loved ones, sometimes decorating the markers or area near the burial ground. Altars are placed inside the home, and are decorated with trinkets dear to the deceased, items symbolic of hobbies or memories, food for the journey, and soap and water to clean up after their visit from the other side.

I think this is a really cool holiday. They don't ACTUALLY believe that the ghosts of their dead relatives are coming to like, eat cake left at an altar in their memory. And they don't sit there and worship the altar either. "Altar" is kind of a loaded word. So is "shrine." But it's really just a designated spot for them to place things in remembrance of someone who's died. They call them "ofrendas," which roughly translates to "offering." The Catholic faith holds a strong tradition of honoring the dead, so maybe that's why this resonates with me, but I just think it's nice to do. Because if you're Christian, then you DO believe in some form of existence after death, and it's nice sometimes to think that the ones you love on the other side ARE aware of what's going on here, and it'd be nice to let them know that you still love and miss them and stuff.

It sounds morbid, but the holiday as a whole takes on a cheerful, comical, celebratory tone. Overall, it's a celebration of life--the inevitability of death and all that, but a reminder to live life to the fullest while we can. Also, it's SUPER colorful and fun to look at. Consider the following:

These are called "Catrinas." You can read more about them here.


Also, because I this is MY blog and I will shamelessly plug whoever I so desire, LUSH has an adorable Dia de los Muertos collection out right now.

What do you think? Hope you have a good week!

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