Feliz Dia De Los Muertos
One of the pleasures of living in the American Southwest is the influence of other cultures, and from our Mexican neighbors, we have come to appreciate Dia de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead.”
This holiday, that sometimes spans several days, involves gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and to assist them in their spiritual journey.
The date of this celebration coincides with All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day. Traditions of the holiday include building private altars, known as ofrendas, and honoring the deceased with marigolds and their favorite foods. Often altars include pictures of the deceased and some of their possessions or other symbols of their life.
Believing that the dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are a present part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones.
In festivals, parades and exhibitions, the deceased are portrayed in skeletal form, and the most famous skeleton figure is Catrina, who was originally created as a parody of an upper class female. Dogs and cats also join the party and appear as four legged skeletons.
Many of the people I have loved were a lot of fun, and would enjoy being remembered in this way. My brother could belt out a Sam Cooke song like no one I have ever heard, and he was simply the best dancer I have ever enjoyed. My best friend, David, could make me laugh until I was doubled over, and he would bring his saxophone to the party. My father always had a twinkle in his eye and a witty word to add to the mix. I think all of them would like to come out and play for Dia de los Muertos. I would invite all of my dogs.
Yes, losing a loved one through death often leaves a hole in our hearts, but I like the idea of taking a moment to remember them in their most joyful, playful, and vibrant states.
As one anonymous author writes:
To the living, I am gone.
To the sorrowful, I will never return.
To the angry, I was cheated.
But to the happy, I am at peace.
Feliz Dia de los Muertos!