Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Day of the Dead Journal

The trick-or-treaters have come and gone, and outside of seeing the little kids dress up and present their smiling faces and pumpkin buckets at my door, I have grown weary of the commercialization of Halloween. Instead of scary skeletons and ghosts, I push-pinned three Scandanavian cloths on our doors printed with images of a large gourd, a giant uncarved pumpkin and autumn leaves, respectively.

My husband and I also covered a small bookcase with a Guatamalan cloth and placed an eclectic collection of items on top to serve as a Day of the Dead altar. It is not an altar of worship, but of remembrance, prayer and meditation. According to Mexican tradition, children are honored on Nov. 1 and adults are honored on Nov. 2. The practice is reflected in the Catholic holidays of All Souls' Day and All Saints' Day.

We are honoring three special people who passed on this year. My husband's father, Ramiro, a special friend and fellow poet Carlos Cortez, and my beloved sister Darcy. A small sugar skull with blond frosting hair represents my sister. A pin with the face of Carlos Cortez sits atop a small box, and a photo of my husband's father bring his memory to mind.

We leave rock salt, a clove of garlic and a shotglass of water on the altar as symbols of food in the afterlife. We scatter petals from fall flowers across the altar which are so colorful in their reds, yellows and oranges that spirits who have passed away might see them through this small window of time. We light two votive candles each night to help us stop, remember and pray each time we pass by. ◦


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