Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day of the Dead

Since I learned about the importance of Dia de Los Muertos in New Mexico, two years ago, I'll never look at pumpkins the same way again. Mexican-Americans throughout this country honor loved ones who have died on November 1st and 2nd - 'the Day of the Dead' - because they view death as the continuation of life.

Around Halloween sugar skeletons appear throughout the Mexican community, in preparation for this celebration. Families who visit cemeteries together, on the 1st and 2nd, may share picnics there too. Bread of the Dead, music, and entertainment are other ways to celebrate.

Altars are created for each deceased person, with photographs of that individual, and his or her favorite food and drink. Each altar also features natural elements of earth, wind, water and fire. A crop represents the earth, a moving object represents the wind, a container of water is meant to quench the soul of the deceased, and a candle represents fire.

It's a ritual that has thrived for 3,000 years.

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