¿Día de los Muertos? ¡Sí!
Hola! My name is Ella C. Lopez and I am especially happy and honored to share my post with TheJennieration, because I am a Fearless Thinker and Learner AND it is a topic SWEEEEET to my heart. This post shares part of ‘mi historia’ as a Latina-Americana. It is sort of what I would like to call my personal Picto-Blog too, in a way- because for the first time, I am going to share some of my own photos on the topic you are about to read. I hope the visual experience will give your senses a taste of why it is so sweet!
I saved more of our Mexico photos for the end of my post, so stay tuned.
Before my post…
On Dec. 2nd, more than a month after I wrote my post here- my Papa and Mama and I went to see:
COCO, the Pixar movie written and created by Mr. Lee Unkrich.
We were so enthralled by every small VIBRANT detail that took us back to Mexico. We couldn’t stop feeling amazed at how the movie gives people who really love culture an accurate idea of how truly beautiful the Mexican people are and how special it is- their celebration of life… Dia de los Muertos.
My mom and I wanted to learn more about who wrote or created what has become our most favorite animated story ever. So we began doing some reading today.
We just about flew out of our seats!!
This is what we found out…keep reading!
The man, Mr. Lee Unkrich- who came up with this idea, lived the experiences in Mexico, wrote about them, felt the passion for the people and then decided to share the beauty with the world.
He produced and directed this heart-warming film, with help from some other talented folks too.
But Mr. Lee Unkrich may be the one who was willing to step outside the box.
He was the FEARLESS THINKER who made sure this came movie came into existence–and from many articles we’ve read– it seems pretty clear it was definitely not easy. One website article described it, something like this: Just as oil and water don’t mix- neither do Corporations and Culture.
My mama and I hope people who love Coco will read this and understand that not everything is what it seems. But despite the challenges Mr. Lee Unkrich had, he was fearless and persevered.
He believed there was a powerful message people should know. Maybe it is because of all that is going on in our world right now. I wish we could ask him.
***We were so proud to find out the real story behind this unbelievably AMAZING movie and it only got even more exciting for us when we found out that this movie about our culture came to be by a native, literally a neighbor from of our very own home town, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.***
If you love Culture, Truth Fearless Thinking & Learning- then you will appreciate a little more background history on the movie Coco and how IT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY TO GO AGAINST SOCIETAL NORMS & BE FEARLESS- BUT WHEN YOU DO- MAGICAL THINGS HAPPEN!
Here are two articles we thought you would find super interesting about the story:
GRACIAS Señor Lee Unkrich for being more than an inspiration!
Now on with my post:
I am going to ask you an interesting question…
Are you the type of person that likes to learn new things about other cultures unique from your own?
Well, since it is very close to Halloween in many countries, or what used to be more commonly known as: All-Hallow’s Eve -I think that it is the perfect time for some FEARLESS LEARNING about a similar holiday rooted in great traditions, celebrations & festivals that happen around the same time in Mexico as well as most of Central and South America.
So here we go.
Are you familiar with the phrase in Spanish:
‘Día de los Muertos’?
Or…the words in Spanish: Las Calaveras, Las Calacas, El Cementerio and Las Ofrendas?
If you are, then don’t be frightened…come on in to this inner patio that opens up to the outside world of Mexican Culture!
You will soon find out more about their meanings and why it’s sometimes just really great to try and be more fearless about learning new things that seem different or even uncomfortable to you at first. When you begin to think about and see things differently it’s like a whole new world opens up. Sometimes, once you learn more about some ‘strange thing,’ you’ll find that it is actually amazing & beautiful and can add a whole new perspective to your own way of looking at the world. It’s so neat- how great it feels to not just always think in the same old ways.
It opens your mind and your eyes to new adventures, fun times and even new people you might have overlooked. When I lived in Oaxaca, Mexico with my family- one of our favorite times was during the ‘Dia de los Muertos’ celebration. Here I was at around age 2 and a half. I hope you will get a better idea of why this time of year is so special from my post.
If you are not familiar with those words, then -never fear!
Las Calaveras actually means, ‘The Skulls’ in Spanish—yes—like the one you have inside your head.
Las Calacas means ‘The Skeletons’, Los Cementerios means The Cemeteries and Las Ofrendas means ‘The Offerings’ -or- ‘ Altars’.
These are all words you’ll hear during
Día de los Muertos or: ‘Day of the Dead’ in Central and South America.
Okay, I know what you might be thinking: “Day of the Dead? What kind of a holiday is that?”
Well- get ready to think differently about these words.
In Mexico and Las Amerícas
Las Calaveras, Calacas, Ofrendas and Los Cementerios are symbolic things and very significant on certain days, for a specific celebration called, ‘Día de los Muertos’—or as they say in North America: DAY OF THE DEAD.
And this is not scary like it sounds. It is actually a beautiful cultural holiday honoring family and loved ones (even pets) that have passed on.
In the U.S.A., Halloween-time used to be more frequently called All-Saints Day. The night before November 1st, people would celebrate the lives of those who have gone on before us. Then, the next day people would celebrate the lives of those who had passed away, but who- many knew as honorable for their deeds to humanity because they had contributed something beautiful to our world. Today, it’s a little different than it used to be in North America. While kids in the U.S.A. are getting dressed up in costumes of Super Heroes, Disney Princesses and the latest movie characters to go out and Trick-or-Treat for candy—the families in Central & South America are getting together, preparing large meals, sharing time and remembering their loved ones no longer with them- in the human sense of the word.
Día de los Muertos celebration has families across Las Américas getting dressed up too. They eat amazing cultural dishes, lots of yummy candy that looks more like decorations than candy because of all the colorful details.
They bake cookies de calaveras and decorate their homes with Ofrendas—or special things that their loved ones passed- would have loved.
They even have huge parades in the streets in every city and small town, all across the continent.
The most important of all is that the focus of the entire experience is to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones- now passed on, and do it with your family. ‘Día de los Muertos’ is celebrated on both November 1st and 2nd so the families can focus on both children and adults who have been important in their lives.
And if you are still possibly thinking this sounds really weird, then get this: Mexico and Las Américas are so dedicated to this Holiday, that their celebrations take the parade processions all the way to the grave yards of the family members who have passed on. They celebrate, share stories and eat— right there with family, inside of los cementerios.
There is music in the streets at night with all sorts of instruments. There is dancing and singing. There are the coolest masks you ever want to see and everything everywhere is full of bright colors and art.
when you smell the orange flowers in the streets—the name is Cempasuchil (or the Aztec Marigold), you know that it is time for Día de los Muertos.
This flower has a really beautiful legend and love story behind it—about a young girl and boy who knew each other from their childhood. You can read more about it here: https://www.inside-mexico.com/the-legend-of-the-cempasuchil-flower/.
So even though you will see tons and tons of las calacas and las calaveras—you will find yourself really interested in the details of the art work and the love that goes into them.
You will start to feel that it is not at all scary but more— just amazing and full of love! The coolest part is that if you don’t live in Mexico and you want to attend a festival to understand it better, then that is completely possible! There are celebrations for Día de los Muertos right here (aquí) in North America.
You can go to: 🌺www. mexicansugarskull.com and find out more about these events across the nation and find one near you. I am proud that traditions and rituals for ‘Día de los Muertos’ originated in Mexico and are really indigenous (or native) to the Aztecs. The celebration also includes ideals brought to Las Américas by Spanish Conquistadores. CONQUISTADOR = Spaniards or Spanish explorers who conquered Latino America in the 16th century. I love the mix of all the cultures because I have all three of these cultures in me.
“YAY for Día de los Muertos!”
…a Holiday passed down for thousands of generations that we like to think of as a “triumph over death” and a celebration of life.
So now when you think about Halloween, you’ll have another holiday to remember that happens right around the same time in our neighboring countries, connected to us- on our very same continent- a continent that reaches all the way from the North to the South poles of the Earth. And the ORIGINS of both are really not all that different when you think about it.
Oops! Excuse me there is someone at my bedroom door! Hang on a second while I go get it.
CREEAAK -(opening bedroom door)
SEÑOR CALACA: Hola Ella!
ELLA: Hola Señor Calaca. ¿Cómo estás?
SEÑOR CALACA: Muy bien gracias amiga. ¡Es tiempo Ella! Desculpamé por haber venido sin anounciarme pero ya vamos a tomar unos tacos al pastor.
ELLA: ¡Oh sí, casi olvidé por estiy tan ocupada en escribir! Gracias por apuntar me y recordarme de esto. Déjeme terminar mis últimas palabras para el Jennieration.com.
SEÑOR CALACA: ¡Oh! el Jennieration? ¡Fantástico! Pues es la generación de los “FEARLESS” o los Sin Miedos.
ELLA: ¡Exactamente! Que buen tiempo del año por eso.
SEÑOR CALACA: Entonces, pues te esperamos abajo Ella.
ELLA: ¡Sí sí! Pronto!
Okay everybody, now that i’m finished with my visitor I will explain. My visitor was Mr. skeleton. He’s an old friend of my family and we were speaking Spanish. The gist of it was that he had come to tell me it was almost time for the celebration and we were going to eat some special ‘tacos al pastor’ for dinner together. He knows my papa loves those. I basically told him I was finishing up my post for the Jennieration. He then was all excited because he knows that’s the generation of FEARLESS THINKERS & LEARNERS who want to be a part of appreciating culture. So SEÑOR CALACA said they’d all wait for me downstairs.
Okay well I hope that now we all know and understand the true meaning of what DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS (Day of the Dead) is really about, the love put into it every season and why it is celebrated! Here are some more photos from my experiences living in Mexico as well as some from festivals here in North America. I actually decided to do the traditional face paints with my family this year (October 2017) and dress up as Catrinas with my mama and one Señor Calaca (my papa 🙂 In the past, I just preferred to enjoy observing others but now I’m ready to fully take part- for many reasons. Here’s more photos from most recent to the year’s past.
Here’s me with my mama and papa.
The Ofrenda above was called CHANGE and if you get in close to the rocks you can see all sorts of painted rocks with words that represent what people feel about things that need to change in our world to make it better. I liked this Ofrenda the best because it was for the whole world.
Candied Sugar Skulls and Creative Mariposa Catrinas!
~ I ran and laughed and danced with a calaca
she stuck a flower in my hair and smiled down at me.
I smiled up at her and we danced
through the street.~
By Ella L. Campana Lopez
Find out more about Fearless Thinking and Learning HERE: at TheJennieration.com
Me & My Mama
Here are a few more photos below- taken and shared by our talented friend, wonderful mom and librarian, Meghan Villhauer and her family.
Their enthusiasm to try new things, think differently and love other cultures is so great.
¡Gracias! Thank you for the opportunity to revisit my roots, share my perspective on how important it is to be a continent that is not all divided up and for your appreciation for the vibrant traditions of our fellow human beings. We are really just one big family, living on one great continent called: Las Américas.
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