31 October 2012

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Call it Halloween, El Dia de los Muertos, All Saints Day, Samhain, Harvest Festival, what have you, it's the special time of year when the days draw short and the nights grow ever longer.

Although the ritual has since been merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles of the Aztec ritual, such as the use of skulls.

Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the pre-Hispanic people honored duality as being dynamic. Natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.

What traditions do you observe at this time of year? What special foods or decor do you gravitate to as the days grow shorter and the nights grow long? We love the garlands of calendula flowers because they remind us of the summer sun. We eat savory soup and stew, casseroles and roasted root vegetables appeal as the weather gets colder. 

The calveras below are hand painted ceramic tiles made by my talented sister Roz Light-Meiche

Enjoy the season, recall the dead with enjoyment for the lives they led, however short or long it may have been. Honor memories of the dead with an altar with photographs, and candles. Leave gifts of toys or favorite foods and beverages during the three day Dia de los Muertos celebration. 


  1. I remember when my daughter and I were in Mexico City many years ago just after Day Of The Dead .. love the art associated with this day and in fact all Mexican art is wonderful.

    Happiness always,

    1. Hi Jan, I agree with you, the vitality that is transmitted in Mexican folk art is astounding!


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