Friday, October 28, 2011

Day of the Dead


The Mexican Day of the Dead begins the evening of November 1 and continues into November 2. It has the same feel as the Irish Eve of All Saints, but comes a day later. In a very lovely article in the October 20, 1995, "Commonweal," Ann Roy writes about her experience of the Mexican tradition when she moved from the U.S. to Mexico.
A new neighbor brought her a fine hard-sugar skull the size of a grapefruit with her name "Ana" on it. The author thought she may have offended the neighbor in some way and put it away. When the neighbor noticed it wasn't on display, she showed the author how to put it on her mantel with candles beside it that were to be kept burning through the night of November 1-2.
Another neighbor explained to her "'the crack between the two worlds' that opens up soon after midnight and is held open for one mystical hour by the concerted ringing of all the church bells in the valley. She explained that she was telling me about this opportunity well ahead of time so that I could complete all the necessary preparations and be quietly ready to call and receive my own dead when this precious moment arrived--when all the bells began to toll softly together. I would have to be prepared early, she said, because my dead had so much farther to come--all the way from the United States!"
The neighbor added, "Some people not from here feel afraid at this time. But that is because they do not understand. No one with any sense is going to call back people they disliked or feared. Why waste such a wonderful opportunity to be together with those we love? So it is only our loved ones we call, and during that time when the bells hold the door open, this valley is filled with the powerful, loving presence of many souls. They embrace us and we them, and we are all tegether again, for a while."

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