We LOVE Dia de los Muertos. A lot. Like, whoa.
We've been knee deep in sugar skulls, paper flowers, ofrenda preparation and special food prepping for DAYS. Weeks, even. I just started our "pan de muerto" dough and will be making tamales as soon as I'm done with this blog post, so it's starting to really feel like Day of the Dead!
I've encountered so many interesting (and incorrect) ideas about DDLM over the years. That we are worshiping the dead. That it's a satantic holiday. That it is Mexican Halloween. So many misconceptions.
I won't go into explaining it all completely here (maybe a post in a day or two when things slow down?) but instead of going over a million things regarding what DDLM *isn't*, I'm going to tell what it *is* for our family.
Dia de los Muertos is much more like Thanksgiving than it could ever be like Halloween. Its a time for good food, sharing memories, talking around the table, remembering funny stories, passing on tradition and celebrating gratitude. As we share the legacies of our loved ones, we are passing it on to the next generation. Because this is done every year, the stories become more and more ingrained in their minds, ensuring they are able to pass them on to the next ...and hopefully the next!
It's not a day of mourning, but of celebration! We joyfully build our ofrenda, prepare yummy foods (usually the favorites of our loved ones), pile on the flowers (a symbol of the fragility of life) and thank God for the promise of eternity. It's also a day to remind ourselves that death has been conquered. Death comes for us all, but oh, how the sting has been removed!
You may see people with their face painted like a skeleton (calavera), which probably adds to the Halloween idea. In reality, Mexican tradition says that our faces are simply a mask...that beneath it, we are all the same. Painting faces is a reminder of our equality, unity and how similar we all really are. It's a sober reminder that death is a reality, but our celebration reminds us it isn't the end.
Everything we put out has symbolism. There is so much meaning, purpose and intention. It's a beautiful and rich tradition that I hope my children carry on when they are adults.
This year, we are building two ofrendas. One at home (like we always do) and another at a local Latino Arts Museum, called Arte Americas in Fresno. I have wanted to apply to build one for the museum for years but was too intimidated and nervous to do it. This year, I had a very heavy burden on my heart and knew I was supposed to apply. I was approved and thanks to some amazing donor support, the vision I truly feel God laid on my heart is coming to fruition. We will be honoring the lost lives of immigrants from the Southern Border, both on our soil and in the desert. I had such a clear and vivid picture of what to do that I can only say that it was divinely inspired. My prayer is that our message will be received without it being perceived as a political agenda. The current political climate makes that very unlikely, but we will stand firm in our message and hopefully avoid unnecessary debate or backlash. Our desire is simply to recognize and honor the lost lives of our brothers and sisters and convey a message of shared humanity. We are honoring the lives of farm workers who have died on our soil, those who have perished in the desert and those who are unidentified. Politics aside, Jesus loves them, so we do too. I will be sure to show you what the final display looks like soon. If you'd like a PDF copy of the brochure we will be handing out, explaining our symbolism and intention, drop me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. :)
I will post another blog post soon showing our home display as well but for now I hope I've given you a better understanding of the holiday. :) If you have any questions about DDLM, I look forward to hearing them!
Alright, enough stalling...back to the kitchen I go!
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