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Mexico: Día de los Muertos

CempasúchilNovember 1st and 2nd mark Mexico's holiday, Día de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead.” Calypso Mexico describes celebrating the days in a small colonia in Vera Cruz, emphasizing that “Dia de los Muertos is about remembering your loved ones that have passed from this world. It is NOT about ghouls and goblins and witchcraft, quite the contrary. It is about a father or mother, uncle or aunt, sons or daughters or a grandparent – family that has died.”

Enigmatario has, by far, the most thorough and reflective post this year about the celebration and how its rites evolved from a mixture of Spanish and Aztec customs [ES]:

It's common to see families go to the cemeteries to clean the tomb of their dad or mom, turning the visit almost into a celebration. They bring cleaning materials and food, buy the favorite flowers of the deceased or, keeping the special significance of the date is the “cempasúchil,” [a type of flower pictured above] with its bright orange color that acts as a guide for the spirits from the altar, tomb, and this world.

Ernesto Alonso Lopez Uriarte also describes the festivities and traditions in detail, noting the distinct rituals which have evolved in various regions of the country on OhmyNews International.

Olganza explains the significance of the “la calavera,” a traditional short mocking epitaph [ES], and even links to a site [ES] which allows users to send a virtual “calaverita” by email. Chobojos exemplifies the tradition with a series of calaveras about famous political and media personalities in Mexico [ES] while G. Kleine posts a calavera for each of the bloggers she reads [ES].

There is also a group Flickr pool for Día de los Muertos, including a well-annotated photograph of a traditional altar.

North of the border, Mexican-American bloggers observe the day of remembrance as well. As California-based Gustavo Rojo notes:

It’s always interesting to see how Mexican culture is being accepted in the United States. It’s awesome that slowly but surely we are truly becoming multicultural, multilingual and much more. We are really privileged to be around so much diversity. Don’t resist it, embrace it!

The post has inspired comments from other Latino bloggers in the U.S. reflecting on what Día de los Muertos means to them. Responding to a post on the Gothamist entitled “Going All Out For El Dia de los Muertos,” VivirLatino writes:

Too many people seem to think that Latino culture comes in two flavors: margaritas and mojitos. This idea seems to be especially popular on days of historical importance like Cinco de Mayo (which by the way is neither Mexican Independence Day nor an excuse for hipsters to don a cheap sombrero and sing “la cucaracha”). Día de los Muertos is not chile flavored Halloween. It is a holiday and a tradition that has its roots in the mestisaje of spiritual and cultural practices of indigenous peoples and Spanish conquest. It is a day to honor the ancestors.

In San Diego, residents celebrated Día de los Muertos by launching “El Ombligo de los Barrios,” also known as “the Chicano Park WiFi network.” A post on Socalfreenet explains the significance of the event:

For years, Barrio Logan was known as “el ombligo de los Barrios,” “the belly button of the Barrios.” As the oldest Barrio in San Diego, it was the first stop for people who had just cross the border. It was the place to come to connect with family, with jobs, and even legal services from Spanish speaking lawyers. As other communities have grown, Barrio Logan has lost some of that central status. This landmark installation of a wireless network in Chicano Park, where thousands come to view world-famous murals each year, will bring some of that centrality back to the Barrio. On Sunday, October 30th, Barrio Logan will once again be “el Ombligo,” only now it will be a belly button of the Digital Age.

Update: Doctor Alán Flores has a nice summary of how Día de los Muertos in the state of Nuevo Leon has been influenced by their northern neighbor's celebration of Halloween. Cindy Mosqueda, a graduate student at UCLA, describes the difficulty in setting up a time-consuming altar with the demands of school. Joel sent me a collection of links relating to All Saints Day in the Philippines. Out of Costa Rica explains the holiday from a Costa Rican perspective. And finally, Comings Communique wishes his Brazilian readers a happy Dia dos Finados.

Wherever you may be in the world, Global Voices wishes you a very happy Día de los Muertos.

2 comments

  • Hola All ~ Found the above link/info on the ‘net’ tonight.

    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/globalvoices/2005/11/02/mexico-dia-de-los-muertos/
    Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005 @ 21:57 EST
    Mexico: Día de los Muertos
    Americas, Mexico, U.S.A., Weblog

    My ‘Padre’, Pete Sr. got his nickname ‘Peta’ from when he was in the Cherry Gang in Logan Heights ~ San Diego back in his Pachuco Days. The tradition goes on…

    Nowdays, I am glad there is a Dia de Los Muertos as I appreciate it more than I ever did Halloween. Of course, when I was a child I use to dig Halloween because of the colorful costumes and esp. because of the candy.

    Now I appreciate Dia de Los Muertos this time of year because it helps to remind me of my loved ones who have passed over to the other side and whose memories continue to live on through my spirit.

    Venceremos! Peta de Sacra

    Local Contact Info.:
    30th annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration

    WHERE: La Raza Galeria Posada, 1421 R St
    http://www.galeriaposada.org/

    WHEN: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, through Nov. 5

    TICKETS: Free

    INFORMATION: (916) 446-5133
    Xico Gonzalez, 916.446.5133 ext. 13.
    Email: xico@galeriaposada.org
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • The day of the dead is a blending of the prehispanic indigenous cultures and the Spanish Catholic culture introduced after the conquest.
    The 28th of October is reserved for people who died in accidents or “disgrace” ( murdered or suicides)
    The 29th of October is to receive the souls of stillborn children.
    The 30th of October is for children …the 31st is to receive children in puberty & teens.
    The 1st of November is for Adults and the 2nd is for a reunion of friends, family and godparents (compadres) to raise a huge offering.

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