Yesterday was ‘Dia de Los Muertos’ (November 2, every year) and even though I noted it in an earlier Soulistry blog, I realized how little I really knew about ‘Day of the Dead.’ The first time I learned about Day of the Dead was while visiting the Mexico pavilion at Disney World and seeing the preview of the Disney movie “Coco” at that pavilion. When I got home, I could hardly wait until the full movie came to our little town.
I loved that movie (have seen it several times since) and as a result, wanted to learn more about the Mexican holiday known as Dia de Los Muertos. I discovered that on that day, ‘literary calaveras’ (satirical poems in which the poet writes about Death taking someone to the land of the dead) were shared; altars (ofrenda) were made to remember someone who has died; and families visited the grave of loved ones, sometimes bringing a sugar skull to leave on the gravesite.
“Bringing a sugar skull to leave on the graveside?”
I enjoy walking through cemeteries. I’m not afraid of death or uncomfortable being with people who are dying, but somehow, the thought of creating a skull and bringing it to leave on a gravestone, until I began to research Dias de Los Muertos, was a difficult concept to comprehend. Time to do some more research.
I learned that the tradition goes back to prehistoric times when people believed in a spiritual life after death and made an offering to the god of the underworld (Mictlantechutli) who was expected to guarantee safe passage to his world.
At that time, brightly coloured sugar skulls were part of the offering to Mictlantechutli, but, when Spanish conquerers arrived, except for the colourful skull made of a sweet confection which was often placed in home altars as part of the offering to the deceased, were lost.
In more recent times, in Mexico, Dia de Los Muertos became a holiday – a holiday around death – and a very, very colourful one at that!
While I have no Mexican ancestry, I have never liked the idea of wearing black as a sign of mourning. Rather, I like the idea of celebrating
… remembering the deceased with joy
… wearing anything-but-black to funerals
because for me, when family and friends have died, they are never entirely ‘gone.’
… I keep them alive in my heart and in my memories.
I have a strong belief that I’ll re-connect with loved ones again … in some way. Not in a way I can explain – but ‘some way.’
Is that a certainty?
It’s not a certainty because no one can prove that such a re-connection can or will happen.
But … is it possible?
I’m a “possibility-thinker.”
And until scientifically proven otherwise, I am going to continue to believe that when I die, in some form, in some way, loved ones and I will re-connect.
And in the meantime, time to celebrate (albeit belatedly), Dia de Los Muertos and remember my parents Joy and Eddie; my siblings Eric, Lois, Fran and Gerry; my husband Hans; my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends who have all departed this life
… remember them with joy, celebration, and colour
… and create a sugar skull: artistic representation of calavera (skull) art, not a confectionary calavera. 🙂
© June Maffin