Summer Catalogue

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why would someone make a skull out of sugar?

Posted by mymercado | E-Mail The Author


While I grew up in a Mexican American home - my mom was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico and my dad was born in South Texas - I did not grow up celebrating Dia de los Muertos.

The holiday is November 1 (All Saints Day) and November 2 (All Souls Day).

I didn't know the holiday existed until I was in my late 20's and then I wondered why in the world anyone would make an altar out of skeletal remains?

My first glimpse at an altar or ofrenda was at an art exhibit in Houston celebrating Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead.

The altars folks created to honor their loved ones who'd passed away I thought were scary as all heck. Truthfully it freaked me out.

Next to a sugar skull one person put a can of beer. On another altar someone created a small painted skeleton and placed it next to a plate of Mexican food, complete with rice and beans.

I only went to the exhibit because I friend dragged me along.

And while I've never created my own Dia de los Muertos altar, I now find them fascinating.

Dia de los Muertos is a colorful holiday throughout Mexico and South Texas.

Families create altars at home ... they add paper mache skeletons, mementos and decorations representing the lives of the deceased.

While it would appear the holiday is a morbid one, that is as far from the truth as possible. Dia de los Muertos is a day those that are living celebrate the lives of those that are dead.

And while some celebrate at home others take their celebrations to the cemetery.

I drive by two cemeteries on my way to work everyday and during Dia de los Muertos you'll find entire families sitting by a gravesite.

Some will be laughing and smiling at the wonderful memories they have of their loved ones and others you'll find crying, quietly wiping away a tear.

If you visit the gravesites after they leave you'll find the trinkets they left behind, maybe a sugar skull or Catrina depicting a scene from their loved ones life. Each item means so much to them.

I wonder how I could have ever thought the ofrendas were scary ... now I know they are created to honor the lives of someone we love.

If you'd like to buy some Dia de los Muertos items, visit my ebay store







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