This beautiful quilt, given to us by a good friend a couple of years ago, holds a place of honor at our celebration.
I’m getting pretty darn excited. The Days of the Dead are quickly approaching. They take place on November first and second every year. We celebrate by having an open house at our place. Everyone who wants to be there is invited, but we do make an invitation and send them out to friends. Many of the people I invite can’t make it, but I tell them about it anyway. Maybe I’ll get a surprise some year and someone I thought would never make the journey will show up.
A close up showing pictures of our loved ones, the "dead bread" and some mementos of what they liked when they were with us. (Someone must have loved Mountain Dew)
I can see it now. I invite a blog friend that I have been in contact via e-mail and blogging for the past four years and he/she shows up:
“Hello, can I help you?”, says I as I open the door after the loud knocking.
Yeah, it’s me. I’m here for the Los Dios de Los Muertos party!”, Says the surprise guest.
“Well, who the hell are you?”, I ask.
“I’m (put your name here), you invited me to come”
That scene, followed by laughter and hugs, then each of us telling the other how they don’t look anything like their avatar and their hair is much grayer than thought, (and fatter too, but we’d never say that to each other's faces).
Here are some of the spirit guests that might show up. As you can see, they are dressed up and ready to party!
Anyway, it’s coming up November 1st, 2009. It’s a Sunday this year. In the past, folks asked us to have the party on a Friday or Saturday night. Well, if November 1st didn’t fall on a Friday or Saturday night, we couldn’t do it. It is traditionally the first and that’s when we host it. We usually start in the evening, after dark, but this year, we will start in the mid afternoon so more friends can make it. Plenty of space if you need a place to stay. I'm making Italian food this year. Traditional Mostaccioli with meatballs and sausage. I'm baking cookies too. Folks bring things and there is always plenty of food.
Here's your invitation right here:
Click on it to enlarge.
There are many thoughts and practices about The Days of the Dead, but most definitions explain it as a time when the spirits of those we love and have lost might have a chance to pass through the realms and visit us. In some places, the people gather and spend the night in the cemetery, then return home in the morning and start the celebration by sharing food and fun all day. Hence the “Days” of the dead. First day in the cemetery, second day at home partying.
People gathering and having fun around the food.
Another table full of food. Most people bring a dish to pass.
We celebrate right from the get go with food and fun. People are never asked to leave and if it goes into a second day, well that’s okay. As far as we know, the visiting spirits might hang around all night anyway.
I love this picture of the decorations and the lights taken from outside when we lived in Ashland.
Here are a couple of sights that explain the tradition. The first site has many pictures of scenes from throughout Mexico. You can see from the pictures of our past celebrations they are similar.
This second site is informational and includes a recipe for Pan Muerto, or Dead Bread. It is said the spirits need certain things to help them on their journey. Bread and water to nourish for sure. The bread is made in special shapes. We buy a loaf or two of Pan Muerto from a local Mexican panaderia, (bakery)
We lost our oldest daughter over 18 years ago. She was involved in a car accident. While foundering around trying to make sense of it all in November of 1991, six months after the event, we stumbled upon the display of Days of the Dead culture in old Los Angeles while we visited there. The idea gave us inspiration to do the same at our own home and remember our dearly departed daughter. It has caught on and we celebrate every year.
The Ofrenda, (alter), in 2006.
The first year, we had a shoe box size alter sitting on an end table. As you can see in some of the pictures, the Ofrenda, as the alter is called, has grown to be a quite large and colorful affair. Many blogger friends have sent me pictures of loved ones to put out on our alter. If they were hung there once, they will hang there forever, or until the owner asks for them to be removed.
Ofrenda in 2007
If you can’t make it, I understand. If you want a loved one included at our place, send me a picture with a name, (e-mail okay as I can print one), and we’ll include it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. The idea of it all means a lot to me. It has kept the spirit of my daughter alive in more than the usual way for us. We remember our daughter all the time, but this special celebration is like having all the Christmases and birthday parties she's missed since she left this world. For all we know, she’s in the next room enjoying herself and hasn’t left us at all.
Peace to everyone.
This is an alter of ours from 2001.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is there, in spirit