Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Calaveros, calacos, catrina, ofrendas, papel picador: Dia de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans living in the United States and Canada, says Wikipedia.

The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints' Day which occurs on November 1st and All Souls' Day which occurs on November 2nd.

Traditions include building private altars - ofrendas, or "offerings" - honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern holiday to indigenous observances dating back thousands of years, and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl.

- orange marigolds
- pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of deceased relatives and other persons, scores of candles and an ofrenda
- calaveras are "skulls"
- calacas is colloquial term for "skeleton"
- pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread
- "La Calavera de la Catrina," a parody of a Mexican upper class female