ACT…following tradition:getting ready for DIA DE MUERTOS

If you’ve been following my blog/ nonsense you know that I am not particularly fond of Halloween but have been slowly falling in love with one of our traditions, which by coincidence (I’ll call it coincidence because I haven’t investigated it) is celebrated on a date close to Halloween.

As you might already know, here in Mexico we celebrate DIA DE TODOS LOS SANTOS, or All Saints Day on November 1st. It’s a festivity dedicated to the people that have passed that lived an exemplary life, as well as to the children that died young. On this day, many mexican churches and homes put up colorful altars in their rememberance.

PAPEL PICADO a wonderfully colorful and intricate craft that decorates our traditional festivities

However, despite the importance of Saints and children’s passings, Nov. 2nd is considered a day of national pause and celebration, because, (and this is solely my opinion) well, there are more common, ordinary people that have lived ordinary, even reckless lives than there are Saints among our dead; and thankfully, even children’s deaths doesn’t beat those numbers…

So, this coming Nov. 2nd our school’s basketball court will be occupied by the student’s efforts in putting up their ALTARES DE DÍA DE MUERTOS worthy of the tradition.

For those of you who have never seen al Altar de Muertos, please don’t imagine something morbid or sad…on the contrary, it’s the most colorful and festive representation honoring, not death but those who have died. The essence of this tradition is to feed, clothe, quench the thirst of the dead soul that has been travelling the long path of repent on it’s way to heaven.

Dia de Muertos

A three level ALTAR dedicated to FRIDA KAHLO (found it through pinterest, from LUPITA ARRESE’s picasa foto gallery)

How can you not fall in love with this colorful spectacle?!

The traditional altar is made up of 7 levels, however only true craftsmen and women (mostly women!) go through with it…nevertheless, smaller versions are well accepted by the tradition police (I made this up, there’s no tradition police, but you know what I mean, it’s not taken as an offense to not have the seven levels)…witH this in mind, we decided to make 6 different 4 level ALTARES DE DIA DE MUERTOS at school…

Each level represents a phase of the journey:

Set up in the form of a ladder (escalonado…how can this be translated?!) starting from the floor…

we have the PATH that leads toward the altar formed by flowers, incense, candles, even a guardian dog (I’m giving you the simplified version, wink!)

then we find the second level that represents the EARTHLY LIFE of the honoree. On this level you will find a fotograph of the person, favorite food,  some PAN DE MUERTO (delish), water, salt to purify the soul and avoid further corruption (both organic and spiritual), a clean change of clothes, favorite drink- mostly alchoholic to remind the soul of the good times lived, though no alcohol will be used at school…

from there comes the third level, PURGATORY, where the ÁNIMAS DEL PURGATORIO (spirits form the purgatory) and innocent children that have had an untimely death are praying to God for this person’s soul all represented with images…

and the highest level is HEAVEN where you’ll find images of the dead person’s religious devotions

all of this decorated with PAPEL PICADO, paper chains, votives and flowers…very festive!!!

Dia De Muertos

PAPEL PICADO…click on the image to see more examples

I just love the significance of every element…

what I love the most is THE COLOR!!!

If you’d like to try your hand at making PAPEL PICADO let me share with you a wonderful link to a  YOUTUBE video by tikistriquis

WISH US LUCK! if all goes well I’ll post some pictures of our school celebration of DIA DE MUERTOS, hugs people

2 responses to “ACT…following tradition:getting ready for DIA DE MUERTOS

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