Monday, November 3, 2008

Dia de Los Muertos - Day of the Dead

Dia de Los Muertos - Day of the Dead is a time of remembering. It is a different take on the season of Halloween, ghosts and ghouls. Some connect it with All Saint's Day on the Christian calendar, but it far predates any missionary influence to pre-Columbian indigenous tradition and history. This is the time when we have been taught to honor the memory of those loved ones who have left our earthly world. We remember them, what they taught us, the flowers and songs of their lives that they left behind for us to remember them by.

I make the ofrenda, the altar, from a table in the "living" room. I cover it with a nice cloth, add candles, light them, place photos, flowers, favorite foods- the pintos, the chile, favorite drinks - the coffee, the vodka, poems and stories, obits... I light the new mexican sage and let the smoke drift over the altar. I remember each of them - our time shared together; some a long lifetime; some a brief, but important crossing of paths; some old, some far too young. Each of these folks who has died and moved on, has left a part of themselves with me. I recognize the gifts I've received. And I am grateful.

They don't need my food offerings. They don't need the candles or the flowers. I need those things: small actions that recognize the importance of those who've gone before me, that help me to remember and keep their memory alive. They don't need my earthly offerings. But they do need me to remember. And I need me to remember. Remembering the Past and the seeds that they planted, in order to move forward in courage into an unknown future.

One day perhaps my children will make an ofrenda and teach their children this simple way to "Remember." Perhaps my smilin' mug will be looking out at them one day and they will remember. We will bridge across time and distance with love and memory and remain connected. Always.


Stella Magdalen said...

I love Day of the Dead. The neighbors always want to know why I light the punkins that night as well....

"There's a light, a light,
in the darkness,
of everybody's life."

Sandi said...

Ah, this is such a soothing tradition. I may have to borrow it for my own family.

el poquito said...

it is a good tradition: a time of the year to remember all those who've traveled on.

the altar can be simple like what i put together this year - or quite elaborately decorated.

it's only the intention that matters. the dead keep it simple.