- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

Día de los Muertos: Laughing at Death and Celebrating Life

El Planeta, News Report, Kimberly Kinnecom, Translated by Elena Shore Posted: Oct 31, 2009

Editor's Note: Deb Colburn, owner of a Cambridge shop that sells Mexican art, says Americans can learn a lot from Mexicans about how to deal with the death of a loved one.

BOSTON -- As Día de los Muertos approaches, there will be several opportunities in the Boston area to celebrate the Mexican tradition. A celebration that honors the deceased on Nov. 1 and 2, Día de los Muertos coincides with All Saints’ Day, a religious holiday celebrated in many countries with Christian traditions. Although it is a Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos is also celebrated in many Latin American countries and communities in the United States with large Hispanic populations.

Deb Colburn, owner of Nomad, a Cambridge boutique that sells Mexican art and textiles, is providing sugar skulls for activities at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center and Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

 Colburn, an American who has a special interest in Latin America, says she likes to participate in the festivities because she believes it is important to teach the traditions.

“I realized there was a big difference in how the American culture deals with death and grief,” explains Colburn. “People need a process to overcome the grief that comes with losing a loved one and this tradition is a healthy way to do it.”

For Mexicans, she says, Día de los Muertos represents something more than the veneration of the dead and, despite its semi-morbid subject matter, the festival is celebrated joyously with an emphasis on humor.

“Death is a continuation of life and here in the U.S. we need to admit that the celebration will help us,” she said.

Each year, she invites a Latin American artist to her shop to offer cultural demonstrations. This year she invited Joel García, a Mexico City artist who specializes in papier mache. Last week García set up outside the shop and painted skeletons in preparation for the festivity.

García, 54, explained that the tradition’s origins could be traced back to the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, the Aztecs and the Mayas. For Mexicans, he said, death is like a game.

“We laugh at death because it’s part of the tradition and our faith. Dying is part of one’s self,” said García.

He explains that people believe that the souls of the deceased can return easily on Nov. 1 and 2, and that during this time the families go to cemeteries to clean and decorate the graves of their loved ones with crowns of flowers, which they believe attract the souls of the dead.

They also put up altars in their homes, where they lay out offerings. “The offerings could be plates of food, ‘bread of the dead,’ glasses of water, Tequila, atole,” said García.

“And for children’s souls, family members leave toys. Everything is laid out together alongside portraits of the dead, surrounded by candles, with the hope that the loved one will visit,” he said.

Local events at the Cambridge Multicultural Art Center and the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology will include decorating sugar skulls, music for children and families, Mexican folk dancing, and arts and crafts.

The Forest Hills cemetery in Jamaica Plain will also celebrate Día de los Muertos for the sixth consecutive year, with music and dance at its 250-acre cemetery, according to Jonathan Clark, program coordinator for Forest Hills Educational Trust.

“It’s the perfect place for the commemoration of death and the celebration of life because it’s a very idyllic and picturesque place,” he says. “It is a very special environment.”

Related Articles:

Writer Creates Bilingual Blog on Día de los Muertos

Tradition of Celebrating the Dead Lives On

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage

Arts & Entertainment