Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Death Month


Calacas


Sugar Skulls

In certain parts of Mexico, the indigenous people have celebrated El Día de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead during late October and early November. This wonderful festival (lasting several days) celebrates the lives of deceased loved ones. The people believed that during this special time of year, the spirits of the loved ones came back to visit. Sugar skulls are made and painted in bright colors. Little handmade skeletons "calacas" are created, dressed in the deceased persons' favorite clothing and depicted enjoying their favorite activities. Tombstones are decorated with marigolds. When Mexico was "conquered" by the Spaniards, the people had no choice but to convert to Catholicism. The Mexican people incorporated their traditions into the Catholic All Souls Day.

I remember years ago suggesting to my daughter's elementary school PTO that we should incorporate some of these festivities into their fall festival. What fun it would be! (This was after a certain fundamentalism group outlawed Halloween). Needless to say that was immediately shot down and I was accused of Satanism.

October to me has become death month. I spent last weekend in Virginia following the death of my brother-in-law. Dr. Joe turned 60 on September 11th. One year ago we traveled to Virginia to "celebrate the life" of my husband's best friend. Michael was 51. My mother's birthday would have been October 20th. All three of them died prematurely due to different types of cancer. I'm not quite up to celebrating in the way of our Mexican friends.

I haven't felt much like posting. I felt the same way last year after Michael's death. Mom's birthday in the middle of this contributes to the down feeling. My students will be making colorful skulls in art class. Perhaps if I post the name of the project in Spanish I will not get flak.

3 comments:

dive said...

Perhaps the Mexicans were on to something, Neetzy. I think if you get your students to celebrate the festival (by whatever sneaky way necessary) it might give your own loved ones a chance to come and visit.

neetzy said...

I am finding my badass students curiously resisting drawing skulls. There goes their future as tattoo artists!

I would love to spend a day with my loved one like the Mexicans!

Manech said...

October has been a death month of sorts for me too. I've been into a deep funk around the same time for a few years now (save last year).