Halloween time is just about upon us and once again I'm filled with the urge to eat candy, stab pumkins and dress up like a ho-skank. I LOVE HALLOWEEN!! This is my third Halloween in Mexico and I'm always pleasantly surprised by the decorating that goes on here along with the costumes and rediculous amounts of candy in the stores.
Even more enticing is the presence of the Mexican Tradition of the Day of the Dead on November 1st. I've tried in years past to observe as much as possible about this new-to-me holiday but besides dragging my husband to the cemetary to see the festivities and spying in a neighbors window at their alter I've come up rather short.
This year is different though and I'm psyched!!
This year I'm a teacher in a Mexican school and they try hard to make the main focus of this time of year on their Mexican holiday. They know the kids will celebrate Halloween but they're trying damn hard to push their traditional holiday down their throats. All over the school the walls are decorated with skulls and skeletons and tommorow the school will have it's own huge alter for the kids to view.
The faculty asked us teachers to talk about The Day of the Dead as much as possible and I took it as a great opportunity to find out the REAL DEAL about the holiday from real Mexicans. In each class I pulled my Gringa-card and told the kids that I don't know anyting about the holiday and asked if they would please fill me in. What a trip!
Almost ALL of the kids and their parents celebrate the holiday by building an alter and leaving out (usually for their dead grandparents) the favorite foods of their dead relatives. One kid said that when they go to his Grama's grave they leave a big bottle of Coke and at their Grampas grave leave a 6-pack of Tecate! (beer) LMAO - I love it!
I've always been curious about what the family does with the food that they leave for the spirits to ¨eat¨ when they come for their visit - the day after in the morning. I broached the subject as carefuly as possible wondering if it's like Santa's cookies or Easter bunny carrots but aparently in Mexico parents don't pretend to eat it. The kids themselves lol said that they are usually the ones to eat everything the next day! One mystery solved.
I asked the kids if they feel that the holiday conflicts with their religion (Catholics and Christians) but they all overwhelmingly said NO! They said this day is a tradition in their culture and that it makes no offense to religion. That surprised the hell out of me considering the alter building and believing that sprits will be coming back to walk the earth - but whatever - Mexicans are cool like that.
It's such a beautiful holiday with all of the fun treats, flowers, candles and remembering and talking of loved ones passed. I myself this year will for the first time be building a teeny alter in honor of my Grandmother. Candles, skulls, her shawl, her giant owl lamp, some flowers and her favorites Sprite and Wheat Thins will be laid out for her to munch on. I'm excited to take pictures and send them to my Mom.
Anyhoo, we'll be dressing my lil piggy up as a fat lil bumblebee and carting her around to the family on Halloween to show off - like any first time parents. Come Nov. 1 though we'll be celebrating our newest holiday and I'm truly excited! :)