Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dia De Los Muertos

The first of November means a nasty Halloween hangover for some; for others, it's the beginning of "All Saints' Day". Time to stock up bunches of golden marigolds.

Dia De Los Muertos is one of Mexico's traditional holidays reuniting and honoring beloved ancestors, family and friends. It is an ancient ritual when the living commune with the dead it starts from October 31 till November 2. The historical roots of this celebration date back to the pre-Hispanic cultures. November 1st a ceremony starts in honor of the "Angelitos" known as "Angels" it takes place in the cementary. The "Angelitos are the children that died and could not experience the happiness and sorrows of adulhood. The church starts ringing bells and calling children's souls from there the celebration continues till November 2.

Throughout each period in Mexican culture, death is not about terror. In Mexican art, legends, and religion, death has not been a mysterious and fearful thing but a realistic recognizable part of life as life itself in the after life. Dia De Los Muertos expresses this perspective: it is not a mournful day but a happy and colorful celebration. There is no place for sorrow or weeping for this could be interpreted as disrespectful to the dead relatives who are visiting.

People believed that souls did not die but that they continued to live in a special place where they finally rest. Tradition holds that the dead return to earth to visit their living relatives. It is believed that although we can't see them,  we can surely feel them. Altars are created to welcome and celebrate the dead. Marigolds are offered in abundance because it is believed their aromatic scents guide the dead to the place where the feast is being held. It is very common to make mole or tamales because those are the foods we tend to make for celebrations in Hispaninc culture. A excess of candles eliminate the darkness just as the souls are being illuminated from the shadows of death. Offering and altars are created with photos, liquor, mementos, fruit, atole or champurrado and pan the muerto known as sweet bread. This also provides the opportunity to teach children about those who came before them.

Dia De Los Muertos is a time of celebration on remembrance. It is also a time to come to terms with our mortality and become aware of the cycle of life and death. Rather than deny and fear death. This event teaches us to accept and contemplate the meaning of mortality. So don't mourn the dead but celebrate it.

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