Thursday, 28 October 2010

alas poor yorick

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For what reason do we audit classes, but to skip them at our leisure? This is my way of saying that Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Migration isn't happening tomorrow morning at 9 am. Especially not after homemade cannelloni and a few bottles of wine as a housewarming/thank you for having me dinner with the girls I spend two weeks with at the beginning of my time in London. Good times, but my head is too fuzzy for ethnological approaches to anything now...

So instead, I'm just going to mention that later this week is one of my favourite holidays--and no, I don't mean Halloween! Actually, I kind of dislike Halloween, since I find cobbling together a costume quite difficult from a traveller's point of view. One of my favourite holidays is instead, the day after, the Mexican festival of Day of the Dead.

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I love Day of the Dead because it is many things. It's colourful and musical and energetic, involving dressing in costumes and dancing around town and drinking hot chocolate, and it's also reflective and commemorative in a happy way. People in Mexico make shrines in memory of the dead, often including photographs, sugar skulls, the ubiquitous purple and orange flowers, and any items that could be considered to represent the loved one. When I asked one of my students last year about the day itself she replied, "Well, my mother likes to go visit her parents in the cemetary," and I generally found the whole attitude, the acceptance of death and the celebration of memory, to be a refreshing change from our Western culture of pretending unpleasantness doesn't exist, and sanitizing everything. Plus, just to be shallow again for a moment, the decorations can be exceptional!

Here's a makeshift shrine with many typical elements I managed to get together last year, when we were living in Puebla:
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We went to a very typical place to celebrate the day itself, but more on that later! I've got to go read about global migration, or not...

14 comments:

Closet Fashionista said...

Sooo cool!! I always enjoyed having a day of the dead party in spanish class....
http://aclosetfashionista.blogspot.com/

A said...

Honestly I did not know about 'Day of Dead' though I have several Mexican friends here in the USA and also in Mexico city. Thanks for writing this post.

Rio said...

Ooh I love Dia De Los Muertos! My mom had her sixth grade class make shrines and paint sugar skulls they made out of clay! That first picture is so cool! :) On Friday, I am supposed to go to San Francisco to check out the Dia De Los exhibit... fingers crossed it works out! ;)

Terri said...

What kind of degree are you working on? That sounds like a very interesting class.

I attended a Day of the Dead get together last year. It was potluck and we were to bring a favorite dish of our dearly departed. I brought "earthquake" cookies, a favorite of my chocoholic father. I agree that it's a wonderful holiday.

Michal said...

Cool post. I've always found this holiday really interesting, although I've only just read about it. (:

Krystal said...

Finding a costume is always stressful!!

Velvet said...

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

Did you use to be a teacher in Mexico? What subjetc did you teach? (Hope it doesn't bother you I ask this).

Outofseasonface said...

I love the day of the dead! In New York there is an area downtown that is basically little mexico, and they always put up such great displays and the foods and little festivals they set up is always so wonderful! My mom and I always watch the festivities in Mexico on the spanish channel at home, I bet you had lots of fun over there during that time :) The best part about that day is that its not only about dressing up (thats just a plus) but they appreciate everything that comes along with it.

Raquel said...

we actually celebrate the day of the dead here in Portugal too, though it's the day we pay tribute to our dead family members and friends. and it's not colourful at all, but we go to church and decorate the cemetery for our loved ones.

Fleur-de-Lis said...

Lo día de los muertos is such an interesting holiday in so many point of view :) Loved how you did a post about it, even more with your own experience of living there for a few time!
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CoCoon said...

Loooove Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. So vibrant. Did you know 'Jack' from Tim Burton's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' was inspired by the Mexican sugar skulls? Good call on celebrating this one!

www.iheartcocoon.com

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

I've been fascinated with the idea of Dia de los Muertos for nearly all the reasons you mentioned. I can't begin to imagine how wonderful it'd be to experience it in Mexico! Also, I'm loving the photo of your makeshift shrine. Those flowers are so (or, were so, haha) billowy and vibrant!

Also, may I ask about your area of study? It sounds similar to mine (that is, when I'm pursuing it... but that's another story!). Something Geography related?

ana said...

It's also my favorite favorite holiday in Mexico... every year we make with my family an altar to our loved ones that are no longer with us and we prepare delicious food (pozole y tamales) with hot chocolate and "pan de muerto" and it's like a little party... this year we couldn't do it on November 2 because it's tuesday but we will do it on November 6th... I'll show the pics in the blog then ;)

Emily, Ruby Slipper Traveller said...

@ Velvet: I was an English teacher at a university, for my sins!
@Ana: I'm really looking forward to your blog post about it. It's a really special holiday and a lovely way to remember the dead!