Mexico Celebrates Life
Mexico celebrates a yearly tradition called Day of the Dead during the last days of October and the first days of November.
As in many Latin American countries, Mexico commemorates the Day of the Dead or All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. The legacy of past civilizations is graphically manifested on this occasion through people’s beliefs that death is a transition from one life to another in different levels where communication exists between the living and the dead.
Therefore, the Day of the Dead in Mexico is not a mournful commemoration but a happy and colorful celebration where death takes a lively, friendly expression.
Indigenous people believed that souls did not die, that they continued living in Mictlan, a special place to rest. In this place, the spirits rest until the day they could return to their homes to visit their relatives. Before the Spaniards arrived, they celebrated the return of the souls between the months of July and August. Once arrived, the Spaniards changed the festivities to November 2nd to coincide with All Souls’ Day of the Catholic Church. Presently, two celebrations honoring the memory of loved ones who have died take place: On November 1st, the souls of the children are honored with special designs in the altars, using the color white on flowers and candles. On November 2nd the souls of the adults are remembered with a variety of rituals, according to the different states of the Mexican republic. The celebrations of Day of the Dead or All Souls Day are referred to differently in some of the states.
Whichever way it is celebrated, Day of the Dead is a time of reflection about the meaning of life and the mission that one needs to fulfill. Death in many situations imparts a feeling of pain and loss, particularly for those who do not know the purpose of their path on this earthly plane. For others, death is transcendence, transformation and resurrection. During the celebration of Day of the Dead all those feelings and beliefs come together in a season that brings to life the memory of the loved ones.
I created an altar, something I never considered before… other than at the funeral/memorial.
Traditions: The Altar
The celebration comes to life as an unique Mexican tradition including an altar and offerings dedicated to the deceased.
The altar includes four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire.
Earth is represented by crop: The Mexicans believe the souls are fed by the aroma of food.
Wind is represented by a moving object: Tissue paper is commonly used to represent wind.
Water is placed in a container for the soul to quench its thirst after the long journey to the altar.
Fire is represented by a wax candle: Each lit candle represents a soul, and an extra one is placed for the forgotten soul.
Above excerpts from; http://www.dayofthedead.com/
Based on what my friend Maria explained as well as what I gleaned from the net, my offerings included.
For Earth; An Aloe Vera plant, which has much symbolism to me.
- Aloe Vera is a healing plant and although I know we cannot heal Dad now, I need to heal and I know he would want me to.
- My sister-law, Diane, bought this plant for me when visiting and Diane was by my side from the moment I learned of Dad’s illness through the funeral and as counsel since.
- I planted it in an elephant which, when the trunk is up, symbolizes good luck.
- A plant reminds me of all the gardening my dad and I did together.
Wind; Incense, because Maria suggested it and also my Dad died of lung cancer… 11 years after he quit smoking. The smoke reminds me to encourage others to quit smoking as Dad had my sister and me promise to do. He wanted smokers to know that it’s bad, really bad dying from lung cancer, worse than anything he could have ever imagined.
Water; A glass of water.
Fire; A candle.
- Rye whiskey; Crown Royal to be exact, his favourite cocktail.
- An avocado ~ Dad introduced me to them and now I live in Mexico and they are abundant… I wish he could have tasted them here, so much better.
- A bread roll – It was suggested as what they do here.
- A ‘faux’ red pepper ~ it would make Dad chuckle remembering how he fooled me once telling me a banana pepper was sweet and I bit it… Woo hoo, I bet flames were shooting out my ears!
- My cross necklace – it is suggested to have a cross and at this point that’s all I have.
- A pack et of his ashes.
- A poem my son wrote;
- A song my husband wrote
- A Bouganvilla stem.
My son, Joe’s poem.
A man of great warmth
proud and strong
wise and humble
he has given much
this family man
and in his passing
he has more to give
if we let him
Let us remember
for to know such a man
is a privilege and a gift
and where he is now
above us all
he is content
and watches over us
our family man.
My Husband’s song; A little history, Chris was in Mexico when Dad passed and woke (as close as we can figure) at the exact time Dad died. Chris clearly felt Dad presence, believing that Dad stopped by enroute to heaven to say goodbye.
Thanks to Chris and Geo for this wonderful tribute to a fine and caring man!
Tonight, after festivities around town, Chris and I will surround the altar, sip some Crown Royal and Chris will sing Dad’s song for me. I haven’t succeeded as seeing this as a ‘happy and colorful celebration’ yet, so am sure to shed tears as I did planning and setting up the alter and writing this piece… that’s OK with me.
Dad died at the young age of 67, November 16th, 2010. My plan is to leave this alter up until then. I will light the candle and incense when I awake and when I return home and say a prayer for Dad and for the family.
As Chris says, the timing for me is good and it gives me something to do as I mourn. My intention is to keep notes and to remember only the good and loving and special.
Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1–2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased.
In most regions of Mexico, November 1 honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”) but also as Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”) and November 2 as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (“Day of the Dead”).
Those with a distinctive talent for writing sometimes create short poems.
Excerpts from; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead
Inspire someone today!
Not feeling it? Be Kind. Be Generous. Be LOVE!