Monday, October 26, 2009

Thanksgiving for the Spirits

Most people in the USA do not "get" Day of the Dead. They never got all the catrinas, skeletons, altars and things I had in my kitchen when I lived in Houston. Many just shook their heads when they walked into the room. Someone called it my "skull and bones" room. Whatever!

So, when people back there ask me to explain Day of the Dead, this is how I start. (They don't get it if you get into the REAL explanation. Trust me, most don't). I say, "You know how everyone comes home for Thanksgiving in the USA?" And they say, "Yes". I say, "Well many Mexicans go home to their families for this celebration". "Oh", they say. Then I say, "You know how when you're going home, your family prepares all your favorite foods?" They say, "Yes". And I say, "Well they do that for Day of the Dead. Fixing all the favorite foods of the departed and then eventually the living family has a big feast". Then I say, "You know how everyone sits around and talks about who isn't with the group or family anymore? Who has died? Who is sick? Whatever" And, they say "Yes". I say, "Well they do that in Mexico, but it is usually around the gravesite of the departed as they wait for the spirit to return. The WHOLE family."

Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don't. In the past, when they didn't, I would go on and on telling them more - now I just stop and don't say anything else. It's better that way.
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Fantastic...........I started to write a blog on the same subject, but it was too pissy because I had an ax to grind on the subject.
Then, on Sunday I saw on the History Channel, The History of Halloween, and of course you know it goes back to Celtic Ireland;Sawain I think it is called and happened when the thread between the living and the dead was the thinnest, on Oct 31. Then morphed into the commercial greed festival it is now in the USA. But in Mexico with a few add ons from the Catholic point of view, it remains what it was meant to be,a day to honor the departed and regard the gathering darkness.
I think you explained it beautifully and perfectly. Gayle

Anonymous said...

what a great way to explain it! that would never have occurred to me. nice picture!


Islagringo said...

Great explanation! I usually tell people that it has nothing to do with Halloween. More of a cross between our Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. said...

Nice job. I've quit explaining but I think most of friends know I have a rather eclectic spiritual life. Islagringo...I like that mix of holidays.

Rita said...

I do know exactly what you mean....what is it with us Americans in the USA???...have we become a cultureless society of shallow, mindless consumers?? Are we really that disconnected with anything cultural or spiritual.

I just came back from 5 weeks in Spain walking the Camino de Santiago...
uhh..the what?? Never heard of it...Why would you do that?? You walked how many hours?? Every day?? Are you nuts?? Typical responses
Need I say...I only met a handful of Americans in 5 weeks!!!

Babs said...

Hi Gayle - Your blog is looking wonderful. I look forward to each post.
Teresa Good to hav yu back in this part of the world.
Wayne, good mix. I hadn't thought of that. You're so clever!
Kay, I know how much you love this holiday and Mexico. Wish you were closer and here.
Rita, your writing is so beautiful and you have inspired me to want to make the trek on the Camino. I have some friends here in San Miguel that made the walk and it really, really impacted their lives.