Friday, October 28, 2011

Calaveras, all 'round

I was greeted the other day by a friend who wished me a Happy Diwali, a tradition that has many interpretations, all having some reference to light. The complexity of the experience is informed by region, religion, as well as cultural and familial tradition.

Not so different from Día de los muertos, I thought.

Growing up November 1st was All Soul's Day, not Día de los muertos: my upbringing being more Catholic than Mexica. My family was from the northern State of Chihuahua and Día de los muertos has deep ties to southern Mexico and Central America.

It was while I was teaching Spanish as a Second Language, that I first began to learn about the time dedicated to remembering those that have passed on to the next world and remembering what our relationship was to them. Halloween is about Ghosties and Ghouls, Día de los muertos is about familia and loved ones.

Calaveras are a common sight at this time of year in Patzcuaro, Pasadena, and Portland.

The sugar skulls are easy to make, easy to decorate, and easy to eat.

It is a time for dealing with the fine line that separates the living and the dead.
It has become a time of artistic expression.
And a time for letting Death know that we won't take it, or our own mortality, too seriously.

Diwali -
Images: Courtesy Dia de los Mueros NW
Ddlm PortlandNW -
Lalo Alcaraz -


  1. Let's plan on making an ofrenda. We would need to make calaveras. Of course we'd have to make sure that we allowed one to be our sample - for quality control.