Having grown up Catholic, I never heard of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead until I move to southern Arizona, which seemed strange to me that Catholics didn’t celebrate the same things in the same ways everywhere (I was young and not very worldly). I moved here in 1985 with my family and even then this was not a celebration I observed, until I married into a Hispanic family. This is when I learned of this Hispanic/Catholic celebration of ancestor remembrance celebrated on November 1st and/or 2nd. Often this celebration involved cleaning and decorating the graves of family members. Along with this, there would be a meal… often beans rice, Barbacoa de res (beef barbeque), potato salad, salsa, tortillas, and (of course) lots of beer. Sometimes family members would prepare meals which had been the favorite of one of their deceased family members.
As a student of Anthropology I learned many cultures both past and current venerate their ancestors in some way or other at this time of the year (mid Autumn). It is thought the celebrations were typically feast and rituals in remembrance of those who died previously, many in the previous winter, due to freezing temperatures, old age and sometimes lack of food. The winter was often harsh and claimed the very old, very weak, and the young if there wasn’t sufficient food and warmth to see the group through the winter. It’s my opinion, the celebration of ancestors during this time of year was a way finishing up any remaining harvests, slaughter domestic livestock (which might now make it through the winter), and start hunts, which would see the group through the coming winter. It was also a time to ask their deities and ancestors for guidance and protection through the coming winter season. I’m sure they also were very aware there would be those who would not see another celebration in this life, because they were not strong or well enough to make it through the winter.
|Vestimenta festiva prehispánica para celebrar la víspera del Día de Muertos.|
Modern day celebrations of Dia de los Muertos are a combination of the ancient celebrations of the ancestors (similar to what I’ve described above) of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central and South America aa well as the Catholic Holidays All souls and All Saints days. It was common for the Catholic Missionaries to incorporate the customs of the locals when they entered a new place. It made conversion to the church easier if the customs of the Church appeared to be similar to those they were converting.
|Sugar Skull Candies|
Have a Wicked Good Day!