Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Dia de los Muertos
Dia de los Muertos translated to "Day of the Dead"
The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints' Day which occurs on November 1st and All Souls' Day which occurs on November 2nd. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.
Many people believe that during the Day of the Dead, it is easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living. People go to cemeteries to communicate with the souls of the departed, and build private altars, containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them.
A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (colloquially called calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for "skeleton"), and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes, from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, for celebrating this "fiesta" often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.
Yesterday we honored those who have past in our family, mainly my grandmother, the was the matriarch of our family, she has been gone almost 11 years and is still missed very much. She was a kind woman and would give you the shirt off her back, we often would have to tell her it is not safe to pick up random strangers walking down the street and give them rides just because she felt bad for them! But at the same time you dare not cross her, she always wore high heels and was not afraid to use them as a weapon if need be, for that matter she had guns that she wasn't afraid to use either LOL She was somewhat of a gypsy, it seemed like she was always moving, but I think it was only so she had an excuse to decorate, she was a very talented decorator and her homes were always beautifully put together, she believed in taking great pride and care of all your belongs. She was an all around very well put together woman. She always looked her best, never to leave the house with out her hair and make up down and dressed like a movie star. Alot of the pictures of her I look at remind me of a movie star. She was very well loved by everyone that new her. She loved us kids more then anything in the world and didnt have a problem showing it. We were all pretty spoiled especially us grand kids, and she raised each and everyone of us, we even all lived with her at some point or another. My daughter Grace was the only grand kid that never was fortunate enough to meet her, Grace was born 2 weeks after my grandmother passed(in the same hospital. Grace reminds me of her so much sometimes I often wondered if it was her incarnate, but I was told that Grace is my grandmother on my father side not my mothers. Last year for xmas i bought Grace a pair of fancy furry high heel slippers and they looked like something right out of my grandmother closet, and as soon as Grace opened them she said "Oh wow these are so pretty and they remind me of grandma Violet!" Which of course brought tears to my eyes but I thought how strange, that those were the first thing out of her mouth, like she had known her all her life! Christmas was my grandmas favorite time of year, not only because she loved to shop but she loved to give gifts away! I would go over to her house and sit in the middle of the living room and wrap presents for hours! She had a gift for everyone under the sun, she would even have extra gifts just in case someone stopped by unannounced for a visit. And she was no cheapskate she bought nice stuff lol! For a long time after we lost her xmas was not something I looked forward to but over the years I have got more and more excited about it, I figure that is how she would want it. And it is better to celebrate and embrace what our loved ones have taught us and memory's they have left us with rather then to dwell and be sad that they are no longer here, because in spirit they are with us everyday.
Here is a picture of my immediate family, my grandma is the elegant looking lady sitting in front of the piano. My sister(with her family) is behind her(she kinda took over as matriarch)I am at the fireplace with my mom and kids, my oldest sister by the tree with her kids, and my uncle and his family is at the table. My grandmothers husband is in the chair in the corner and a picture of my grandfather is on the wall, the mirror above the fireplace is a reflection of the shelves that my grandmother had her xmas village on, that she loved so much she kept up all year, the table my uncle is at is the actual table my grandma would set every year at xmas and the piano was hers that is still in our family and has been for many moons. The picture obviously was not taken like that(grace like i said was born after my grandma died)My bff's mom is very good with putting pictures together and she put this together for us, everyone got copies.