November 6, 2011

I heard demands

Last night I attended a party at sweet Val's house, to celebrate Día de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead." Valerie goes all out, with traditional foods, costumes, a bonfire, hooping hoopsters, music, dancing, an ofrenda (altar), and free-flowing drinks of all kinds.

Val and her sugar skull cake
Chris "Caliente" and Val
Me and Jill
Nikki and Friend

Val's ofrenda (altar)
I love the idea of celebrating lost loved ones, but there's more to it than that. We love them, but we fear them, too. The syrupy sweet coffee we put on the altar because it's Auntie's favorite is an offering of love, but it's also a gesture of appeasement. As kind as she may have been before death, after she's passed we don't really want Auntie gliding into the kitchen in search of a cup of joe in the middle of the night. 

We intentionally but "safely" explore our fears in order to overcome them...Rubber-necking at car crashes, watching horror movies, reading true crime novels, telling spooky stories at sleepovers, putting evil witches in fairy tales, and yes - even Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations - all put us face-to-face with our fears . In these scenarios we always come out victorious, and maybe a little less afraid.  

I know I did...

These amazing installations by artist James Hopkins serve the same purpose, in a contemporary but unmistakable manner.


by Hart Crane
The host, he says that all is well
And the fire-wood glow is bright;
The food has a warm and tempting smell,—
But on the window licks the night.

Pile on the logs... Give me your hands,
Friends! No,— it is not fright...
But hold me... somewhere I heard demands...
And on the window licks the night.

From wikipedia:

Each year in the beginning of November, millions around the world honor and remember their deceased loved ones. From Latin America to the Philippines, people visit family members' and friends' graves, eat customary food or follow particular traditions. Also known in some countries as All Souls' Day, the Day of the Dead originated as a Roman Catholic holiday.
In Mexico and large parts of Latin America, the Day of the Dead is a national holiday and widely celebrated. People build small altars and bring the deceased's favorite food to the cemetery. In the Philippines, entire families spend the night at the graveyard, while in many countries in Europe people visit relatives' graves and gather with family and friends.

See more super extra awesomesauce Day of the Dead stuff here:

What are you afraid of?

1 comment:

Chrisy said...

Gosh, the party looked fabulous...such an interesting day I'd like to be in Mexico to celebrate it. I'm not a person who fears things...although sometimes the thoughts inside my head shock the hell out of me!


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