Although Dia de los Muertos seems to have been incorporated into Halloween, it’s very much its own holiday in Mesoamerica. I’ve always known it to occur on November 1st through 2nd.
Some people might think Hispanic culture to be morbid with all the obsession with skulls and skeletons, but it’s actually quite the opposite. The whimsical skulls and skeletons remind us that all life is cyclical and not to take the death part too seriously.
Dia de los Muertos is not a celebration of death, but a celebration of life. We remember family and friends who have left us.
Traditionally, we visit the cemetery where loved ones are buried and bring food and drink to share. I’ve always found that part a little disrespectful, but that’s because my introduction to Dia de los Muertos had already been tampered by Anglo sentimentality. Anglo culture fears death (or at least remains woefully somber) whereas Mesoamerican culture embraces it as a part of life. It’s about perception.
It might sound weird, but I’ve always been fascinated with the moments before death. It’s more scientific curiosity than anything else. I’ve heard so many first hand accounts from friends who have been with the dying at the moment of death. The things people say just before they die fires the imagination. They have whole conversations with invisible people. Some are afraid, others are angry that they’re still on Earth, robbed of an early exit.
It makes me want to hold their hand and ask them burning questions, but death is each person’s private journey. It’s their time to do with as they please. They owe nothing to the living.
Speaking of death, a good friend scared me into a cold sweat. I had texted her last week, but she never answered. At first I thought she might be on vacation. I know she doesn’t look at her phone when she’s traveling. I texted her again. Still nothing.
My friend is a whole ten years older than me, so I start to fear the worst. I made a special trip to see her at work. (Yes, she still works–at manual labor no less–but only because she enjoys it.)
She was fine. Thank goodness. She never heard her phone ding, so she had missed my texts completely.
Did you have a good Halloween? Did you get many trick or treaters? One of the things I miss about living in the city is seeing the trick or treaters, especially the little bitty ones. They are so cute!
Did anyone ever scare you by not returning your calls?