In Michoacan, Oaxaca and Chiapas, in Mexico City, and in communities throughout America and Latin America the celebration begins. It is los Dios de los Muertos; the Days of the Dead.
I want to tell you, I want to tell you all about it. Immerse you in a holiday I’ve only ever known second-hand. I wish I could instill the strange joy of this communion of spirits, but you’d need to read it right. You’d need to see the right video, and read the right book, maybe Barbara Kingsolver… and have that appreciation creep up on you, firsthand.
Los Dios de los Muertos, my favorite adopted holiday. I like it better even than Christmas. I’m fascinated. I want to be in Oaxaca today, and see the elaborate altars, join the candle light vigil as the spirits come through the veil. I want to decorate my daughter’s cheeks with Marigold pollen, and buy calaveras de azucar, ‘sugar skulls’ to feed her.
I wanna show you.
It looks, maybe, to an outside observer, like a wildly macabre gathering. Everywhere skeletons, grinning and leering, poised in different actions. Some move, some don’t. Special breads leer from plates in the shape of skulls. Children, everywhere, accepting goodies, working to decorate the ‘ofrendas’ or altars so they are astonishing, breath-taking, transcendent.
And at night, a vast sea of candles, flickering across the graveyard, as people await the spirits of those who departed.
I can’t show you, not really, but if you close your eyes you’ll realize you’re a part of this celebration. You have history and family and spirits too. You are very much a part of this dance between the dead and living. This is the short span, the living, breathing part; but we take our place in the ever turning wheel. All our atoms are borrowed from the soil, but you have the privilege to dance above for a little while.
So celebrate the two days reserved in their honor: Celebrate the lives of your dead.