Friday, November 21, 2008

Día de Muertos

On this day (November 1 and 2) Mexicans celebrate All Saints and all souls day, but with Prehispanic influences. Aztecs believed that the soul of their dead relatives would come back, and had to be honored. When the Spainards came, both customs were mixed and formed what is today called Día de Muertos. On this altar, which should have tree levels, the family places a photo of the deceased. They also place things that the deceased enjoyed in life. Food, games, cigarettes, etc. Some other things are placed which have a definite purpose, like a pitcher of water (in case he/she comes back thirsty). In the case of a baby there will be pacifiers, bottles, and baby food (Gerber). There are many other symbolic things: salt, incense, flowers, pebbles, jade, etc. Also, personal belongings of the deceased are placed on the alter which is first covered with a white tablecloth, and then decorated with "papel picado", colored tissue paper cut with Día de Muertos figures (skulls mostly). You can find more information in Wikipedia.

It had been a long time since we last made an Altar de Muertos. We decided to do it again this year in front of our house (it is mostly done inside), because we thought it would be nice if the kids asking for Trick or Treats remembered this Mexican tradition.
The response was incredible. We made the altar for my dad who eleven years ago passed away.
As the kids came to get their candy, they would ask: Who is the "muertito" (dead person)? I would tell them it was my dad to which they would reply "Que el señor lo tenga en su gloria."(May the Lord keep him in his Glory.)

Here are some pictures of the altar.

As you can see, there's the picture of my dad. On the sides of the picture there are marigold (cempaxúchitl) flowers which will guide the soul of the dead. There is an image of San Judas to whom my dad was devoted. Fruit, chocolate, and beer. Even a pair of Dad´s glasses.

Here the "papel picado" can be seen better.

Some neighbors who came for candy. I´m the one with the yellow scarf.

Ian in front of the altar.

A year ago we were able to go to Pátzcuaro. It is a city where this day is celebrated to the max. There is a lake and in the middle of the lake is the tiny island of Janitzio (in the state of Michoacán). People tidy the tombs, decorate them, and stay all night. It is very cold there. It is very difficult to get a hotel, so we took our tent (again, very cold). We went with our Hungarian friends Dani and Sofi.
Some picture from last year.

View of the island of Janitzio from the ferry.

Keeping vigil over the dead.

Another view of the cemetery.

Dani and Sofi in front of an altar.

Enough for today. This is really scary. I thought I wouldn´t have enough to write about, and here I am, putting down all these things. Hope it's not boring.
Anyway, good night.

1 comment:

el dan said...

hey there!
Angie! te queremos mucho!!! me gusta tu blog amiga! Te mandamos muchos besos!
Sabes que? Hoy es dia grande: ya hay nieve! solo poquitito, pero hay. felicidades!

ps: for those who would like to see more photos of last year's incredible journey with some very thoughtful hungarian subtitles: