Monday, November 2, 2015

DAY OF THE DEAD

No, it's not about the latest episode of The Walking Dead.  Today is what is called, in many cultures, particularly Hispanic influenced cultures, Dia de los Muertos...or Day of the Dead.


Being in Houston, with its large Hispanic population, Day of the Dead is becoming a holiday that more and more people participate in.  It might sound morbid upon first glance, but it's really all about celebrating the lives of those we've lost.  Because mourning and being sad is seen as an insult to the dead, they would much rather see us happy and celebrating them.  The origin is thought to be a sort of blending of Native American traditions, Spanish traditions and Catholic holidays...November 1st is "All Saints Day" and today, November 2 is "All Souls Day".  On this day, altars have frequently been set up in homes that are adorned with flowers, pictures, candles, objects...even food and drink, that were all favorites of the loved one who has passed.  It is believed that this is the one day of the year when they know their loved one will come back to visit and take in the essence of their favorite things. When the one who has passed is done, they leave the food for the family to eat and celebrate with later.  Often picnics are held, sometimes even on the grave or in the graveyard, with as many relatives attending as possible.  More often though, it's simply a celebration in the home.  In some parts of Houston, neighborhoods set up their altars and decorations on the front porch and it becomes more of a neighborhood celebration, not unlike Halloween.   


Skulls and skeletons are prominently featured because it is believed that it is a way of telling "death" that we're not afraid, death is just another stage that follows life and there is more after passing.  It's a very optimistic and hopeful belief system.








One of my coworkers painted this pumpkin at home and our boss liked it so much, he asked her to paint one for our office pumpkin...







...so she painted this one. When she was finished, she put our office, company name and logo on it as well.  It came out pretty awesome!

Here are some links for those wondering more about this fascinating holiday:

Day of the Dead flower traditions

Day of the Dead WIKI entry

Day of the Dead sugar skull history

Day of the Dead decorations at Amazon

Next year, we are going to set up our own altar, or "ofrenda", to honor our parents and those others we've lost.  We'll also invite friends over to share in the moment.  We think it's a wonderful tradition worthy of bringing it into our own sphere of traditions.

Hope you enjoyed learning a bit about a tradition that maybe you haven't heard about before.



16 comments:

Delores said...

It sounds like a healthy way of remembering our family/friends/ancestors.

Gail said...

I love learning the history behind the custom.

John Gray said...

Well your title grabbed my attention
I wonder why

Elephant's Child said...

I like it. We don't do death well in our culture. Any positive steps have to be a win.

Jacquelineand.... said...

It's a much healthier way to deal with death than is generally found in Western cultures.

Texas Rose said...

A positive approach to death and a beautiful way to remember loved ones.
For All Souls Day today, I went to the cemetery and put out flowers and candles in remembrance of my loved ones. It's a long-held tradition in my area.

ImAGirlyGirl said...

Thanks for this explanation, I"ve been kinda confused about the whole thing. You helped explain it better. And I went to those links, great, I didn't know there were so many decorations until I saw them all at amazon, haha. I might have to have a celebration next year

Practical Parsimony said...

Did you see the Root Simple display for Day of the Dead? I am going to do this next year. I do celebrate my mother's life every day, remembering her in everything she taught me. I make her recipe for pumpkin pie and spaghetti instead of finding my "own" recipes.

I like this custom. From now to next year, I will gather and plan for this celebration.

1st Man said...

It's very healthy, and most of all, a positive way. And upbeat.

1st Man said...

Thanks, hope I helped a bit. :-)

1st Man said...

Hey hey! I wondered if that would draw you in, ha. I'm guessing Rick and Carol and the others aren't celebrating Day of the Dead....ha.

1st Man said...

That's the way I think too. Any positive step is a win win. Funerals and even at times, memorials just seem so down. I understand they help heal but seems like remembering our loved ones later in a positive light is a great way to persevere the memory.

1st Man said...

Healthier is a great way to describe it. Thanks!!

1st Man said...

You did something that is almost what this is (perhaps minus the skulls and food, ha). But yes, being connected to All Souls Day makes it a great connection. Love it. Glad you were able to do that.

1st Man said...

Well, hello! Thanks for this, I just tried to explain as I understand it and a bit of online research. I was surprised when I went to Amazon and saw how much stuff there was. We're going to do something next year for sure.

1st Man said...

Thanks for the heads up about Root Simple, I went and visited, loved their altar and the story behind it. Aren't "Mom's" recipes just the best? They bring back such memories and happy times.

Thank you!