Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day of the Dead

Also called, El Dia de los Muertos  or All Souls' Day.  It's a Holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans living in U.S. and Canada.  Family and Friends gather to pray and remember those who have passed.  The Catholic Holiday is termed All Souls' Day and is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd.  Traditionally, altars are built to honor the dead and may incorporate favorite foods, beverages and flowers.  Gifts are brought to the graves of the deceased.  (Information taken from Wikipedia.  BTW, I feel like I"m in college writing a report and quoting a source!)

I wanted to share this beautiful altar my sister Emmy made in honor of our late Grandmother.  When Emmy told me she was creating this, I was sooooo excited!  But I tried to imagine what it would look like, and all I could think of was a LOT of black and skulls and was wondering....hmmmm...kinda creepy!

And she sent me the photo and I was soooo pleasantly surprised at the bright and cherry look!  I LOVE IT!  I've shared how close I was to my Grandmother.  We had a very special connection.  But so did Emmy.  When I look at my sister, I am reminded of my Grandmother...her strength and beauty...her feistiness.

Here's Emmy's description of the piece:
"I put lots of buttons and the spool of thread and thimble to represent Grandma Idad's work as a seamstress.  The fruit is a traditional part of Day of the Dead (DOTD).  In Mexico they put out food and candies called "ofrendas" as a gesture for the deceased.  Since Grandma was such a religous person, I put angel wings on the front and the Virgin Mary on the back." 

Oh! And I've got a story for you!  In the picture of my Grandmother you can see a Christmas Tree in the background.  It was made out of ribbon.  My father made it!  I think I was about 17 when we visited Hawaii for Christmas.  We got there right before Christmas and my parents went looking for a tree.  Well, being Hawaii, they do not have an abundace of trees on the corner....NOPE....ALL OUT!  So my father's brains started thinking...and planning.  He ran to the store and came back with a bag of green ribbon, garland and tape!  He strung some ribbon from the ceiling and created that tree.  I started cutting snowflakes out of white computer paper in various sizes and we trimmed the tree with them!

To this day, THAT was the only tree I can really remember.  It was my favorite tree and the only one which held such importance and meaning.  That Christmas I remember my Grandmother....our last Christmas with her...and that beautiful tree.  Without meaning to or even realizing it, my father created a beautiful touching memory and I'm so thankful for his efforts.

And I also relaize that I did not get the crafty gene from my mother...which I's from Dad!

Here's another shrine my sister made last year.  It's more dark and Halloweeny!  FUN!

And here's the back side of the shrine.  I love that blue!

My family is from the Philippines, so this holiday is familiar to me.  Here is some information taken from Wikipedia:
"In the Philippines, the holiday is Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead), Todos Los Santos or Undas (the latter two due to the fact that this holiday is celebrated on November 1, All Saints Day), and has more of a "family reunion" atmosphere.  Tombs are cleaned or repainted, candles are lit, and flowers are offered. Entire families camp in cemeteries, and sometimes spend a night or two near their relatives' tombs. Card games, eating, drinking, singing and dancing are common activities in the cemetery. It is considered a very important holiday by many Filipinos (after Christmas and Holy Week), and additional days are normally given as special non-working holidays (but only November 1 is a regular holiday)."

When I was a child, I didn't quite understand the whole celebrating in a cemetary thing and was kinda horrified when my Mother told me about how they don't Trick-or-Treat!  It's so  intereresting how the day can be filled with fun, joy, celebration, loss, grief and sorrow all at the same time.  I think of it all as a celebration of life and a Thank You to God for sending us the soul of our loved ones...if only for a brief time on Earth.

So there you have it!  Not the kind of Halloween post you were expecting, right?  Well, you got a little bit of a culture and history lesson instead!  Hope you enjoyed

 Have a fun and safe Halloween!

And Grandma....I MISS YOU!