Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)

I am sometimes embarrassed to admit that I’ve been somewhat disconnected from Mexican culture in Canada for a long, long time. Yes, I eat Mexican food as often as I can. Yes, I’ve written about Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo and other celebrations. But you wouldn’t know that in a decade, I’ve stepped on to the Mexican Consulate only twice, and both occasions were this year. I know, I should be more in touch. But I digress.

Guadalupe Skull Face3
photo credit: STRIKE TNB OS ATK

One of the Mexican traditions that I have been not able to keep up with every single year, but I really try hard to do even when I am not in Mexico is setting an altar for my deceased loved ones on the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), which happens to be November 2nd. When I am in Mexico, I visit the graves of my aunties and grandparents to drop a bouquet of flowers. On this day, I am often reminded of the loved ones I’ve lost to several diseases (diabetes and cancer, for the most part). I am also keenly aware of how fleeting our lives are. However, as it usually happens with Mexican traditions, it feels more like a celebration of the lives that we were lucky to have rather than a time of sadness, mourning and feelings of loss.

Frankly, I love speaking both Spanish and English, because the Spanish version of the Wikipedia entry for Dia de los Muertos is substantively better (and way more accurate) than the English version for Day of the Dead. The Day of the Dead is a perfect example of syncretism, a melding of the Spaniard observance of All Saints Day (November 1st) and the Aztec celebration of the Ueymicailhuitl (the party of the dead).

Today, even though it is a really busy day (I will be speaking on a panel, having 3 business meetings and doing some planning), I plan to take some quiet time to set an altar to my deceased loved ones, to celebrate their existence. I hope you enjoy your Dia de los Muertos as well.

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Comments (1)

Peter ~ @PvTNovember 2nd, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I’m a sucker for tradition myself.

Nice sentiment “Dia de los Muertos”!

I’ll light a candle.

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