Friday, October 14, 2011

Dead Day 101

Dead Day 101
By S. Derrickson Moore
dmoore@lcsun-news.com
LAS CRUCES — Día de los Muertos has been called “a day when heaven and earth meet” and “a celebration of lives well-lived.”
In Las Cruces, it has become a beloved tradition, a time when Borderland cultures blend, showcasing and sometimes creatively combining Spanish, Mexican, American Indian and Anglo customs and beliefs.
Día De Los Muertos “is not a morbid holiday but a festive remembrance of Los Angelitos (children) and all souls (Los Difuntos),” according to a statement from The Calavera Coalition of Mesilla. “This celebration originated with the indigenous people of the American continent, the Aztec, Mayan, Toltec and the Inca. Now, many of the festivities have been transformed from their original pre-Hispanic origins. It is still celebrated throughout North America among Native American tribes. The Spanish arrived and they altered the celebration to coincide with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2).”
Continuing an annual Las Cruces Style tradition, here is a guide to some important terms and concepts relating to Day of the Dead celebrations, collected during 18 years of commemorations here.
alfeñique: Molded sugar figures used in altars for the dead.
ancianos: Grandparents or elderly friends or relatives who have died; ancestors honored during the first (north) part of processions for Day of the Dead.
angelitos: Literally “little angels,” refers to departed children and babies, traditionally honored during the first day of celebrations, Nov. 1, and the third (south) part of processions honoring the dead.
anima sola: A lonely soul or spirit who died far from home or who is without amigos or relatives to take responsibility for its care.
calascas: Handmade skeleton figurines which display an active and joyful afterlife, such as musicians or skeleton brides and grooms in wedding finery.
calaveras: Skeletons, used in many ways for celebrations: bread and candies in the shape of skeletons are traditional, along with everything from small and large figures and decorations, skeleton head rattles, candles, masks, jewelry and T-shirts. It’s also the term for skull masks, often painted with bright colors and flowers and used in displays and worn in Day of the Dead processions.
literary calaveras: Poetic tributes written for departed loved ones or things mourned and/or as mock epitaphs.
Catrin and Catrina: Formally dressed couple, or bride and groom skeletons popularized by renowned graphic artist and political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada.
copal: A fragrant resin from a Mexican tree used as incense, burned alone or mixed with sage in processions in honor of the dead.
Días de los Muertos: Days of the dead, usually celebrated on Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 (the official date for Day of the Dead) in conjunction with All Souls Days or Todos Santos, the Catholic Feast of All Saints. Various Borderland communities, including Las Cruces, have their own celebration schedules in October and November. Look for altars and art exhibits around the Mesilla Valley, and our largest area celebration Oct. 29 and 30 on the Mesilla Plaza, also the site of a procession beginning at dusk Nov. 2.
Difunto: Deceased soul, corpse, cadaver.
La Flaca: Nickname for the female death figure, also known as La Muerte.
Frida Kahlo: Mexican artist who collected objects related to the Day of the Dead. Her photo often appears in Día de los Muertos shrines or retablos.
Los Guerreros: Literally, “the warriors,” are dead fathers, husbands, brothers and sons honored in the final (east) stop in Dia De Los Muertos processions.
marigolds: In Mexico, marigolds or “cempasuchil” are officially known as the “flower of the dead.” The flowers are added to processional wreaths at each stop, with one blossom representing each departed soul being honored. Sometimes marigold pedals are strewn from the cemetery to a house. Their pungent fragrance is said to help the spirits find their way back home. Sometimes mums and paper flowers are also used.
mariposas: Butterflies, and sometimes hummingbirds, appear with skeletons to symbolize the flight of the soul from the body to heaven.
masks: Carried or worn during processions and other activities, masks can range from white face paint to simple molded plaster or papier-maché creations or elaborate painted or carved versions that become family heirlooms.
Las Mujeres: The women who have died are honored during the second (west) stop of Day of the Dead processions. After names of dead mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are called and honored, it is traditional for the crowd to sing a song for the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Náhuatl poetry: Traditional odes dedicated to the subject of death, dating back to the pre-Columbian era.
ofrenda: Traditional altar where offerings such as flowers, clothing, food, photographs and objects loved by the departed are placed. The ofrenda may be constructed in the home — usually in the dining room — at a cemetery, or may be carried in a procession. The ofrenda base is usually an arch made of bent reeds. It is ornamented with special decorations, sometimes with heirlooms collected by families much like Christmas ornaments. Decorations may include skeleton figures, toys and musical instruments in addition to offerings for a specific loved one.
pan de muertos: Literally, “bread of the dead.” It is traditionally baked in the shape of a skull — or calavera — and dusted with pink sugar. Here, local bakeries sometimes include red and green chile decorations.
papel picado: Decorations made of colored paper cut in intricate patterns.
Posada: José Guadalupe Posada, (1852-1913), the self-taught “printmaker to the people” and caricaturist was known for his whimsical calaveras, or skeletons, depicted wearing dapper clothes, playing instruments and otherwise nonchalantly conducting their everyday activities, sometimes riding on horse skeletons.
veladores: Professional mourners who help in the grief process in several ways, including candlelight vigils, prayers and with dramatic weeping and wailing.
Xolotlitzcuintle: Monster dog, sometimes depicted as a canine skeleton, sometimes as a Mexican hairless breed. Since pre-Columbian times, this Día de los Muertos doggy has, according to legend, been the departed’s friend, helping with the tests of the perilous crossing of the River Chiconauapan to Mictlan, the land of the dead.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

50 comments:

Tru Dillon said...

so much information! I had no idea about some of these traditions thanks for the explanations.

Anonymous said...

buy xanax xanax withdrawal stomach pain - xanax side effects hair loss

Anonymous said...

ambien cr ambien dosage levels - ambien and alcohol bluelight

Anonymous said...

buy alprazolam online xanax rx - high does xanax make you

Anonymous said...

diazepam cheap diazepam 0 5 mg - diazepam zopiclone interaction

Anonymous said...

zolpidem high zolpidem and xanax - generic zolpidem doesn't work

Anonymous said...

ambien for sale online where to buy ambien cr online - ambien and pre-employment drug testing

Anonymous said...

zolpidem online zolpidem tartrate 10 mg tablet price - side effect of zolpidem 10mg

Anonymous said...

zolpidem side affects can i buy zolpidem online - high on zolpidem tartrate

Anonymous said...

ativan pharmacy buy lorazepam canada - lorazepam ativan vs xanax

Anonymous said...

generic ativan side effects of ativan .5 mg - 1mg lorazepam much xanax

Anonymous said...

diazepam 5mg diazepam blood levels - diazepam dose get high

Anonymous said...

ativan online ativan children - buy ativan tablets

Anonymous said...

buy xanax bars online no prescription xanax dosage compared to ativan - xanax effects on brain

Anonymous said...

buying xanax xanax effects long term - buy xanax online in us

Anonymous said...

xanax order no prescription 10mg xanax bars - xanax and alcohol and memory loss

Anonymous said...

buy cheap ativan order ativan australia - ativan withdrawal length

Anonymous said...

generic xanax xanax drug pills - street names xanax pills

Anonymous said...

ativan anxiety ativan withdrawal weight gain - give overdose ativan

Anonymous said...

somas online carisoprodol reviews - how many carisoprodol 350 mg to get high

Anonymous said...

brand valium 5 mg valium high - buy valium online overnight delivery uk

Anonymous said...

buy zolpidem online ambien good sleeping pill - ambien side effects bruising

Anonymous said...

ambien zolpidem ambien side effects nightmares - ambien recreational use dosage

Anonymous said...

buy valium much does valium cost cvs - valium dosage per weight

Anonymous said...

cheapest ambien ambien side effects mood - where to buy ambien online

Anonymous said...

valium 10mg mylan generic valium - 5mg valium and beer

Anonymous said...

Blogger: Las Cruces Style - Post a Comment buy cheap ativan - where can i buy ativan online http://www.ativanonlineoffer.com/#where-can-i-buy-ativan-online

Anonymous said...

Blogger: Las Cruces Style - Post a Comment order meridia - cheap meridia http://www.meridiaordernow.com/#cheap-meridia

Anonymous said...

Blogger: Las Cruces Style - Post a Comment cheap soma without prescription - order carisoprodol http://www.emprendiendoideas.com/#order-carisoprodol

Anonymous said...

ErrorpSpele buy generic buspar - cheap buspar http://www.busparspecialoffer.com/

Anonymous said...

Hi, MoxoredapeTox finasteride no prescription - buy propecia online http://www.bigdocpoker.com/#finasteride-5mg

Anonymous said...

Hi, MoxoredapeTox ambien online without rx - ambien cost http://topandhra.com/#ambien-cost

Anonymous said...

Inhouse Pharmacy Medications Products prednisone medication - prednisone no prescription http://www.prednisone4sale.com/#prednisone-no-prescription

Anonymous said...

Hello, buy effexor online - buy venlafaxine http://www.effexorcostonline.com/#buy-venlafaxine

Anonymous said...

Aarp Preferred Drug Plan prednisone price - prednisone sale http://www.prednisone4sale.com/#prednisone-sale

Anonymous said...

Hello, buy propecia no prescription - cheap propecia online http://www.wheretobuymedsonline.com/propecia/

Anonymous said...

Online Cheap Diet Pills buy acomplia online no prescription - acomplia for sale http://www.buydiscountedisotretinoin.net/#acomplia-for-sale

Anonymous said...

Hello, buy propecia online without prescription - propecia for sale http://www.wheretobuymedsonline.com/propecia/

Anonymous said...

Hello, buy cheap effexor - effexor 75 http://www.effexorcostonline.com/#effexor-75

Anonymous said...

Hello, buy accutane no prescription - cheap isotretinoin http://www.wheretobuymedsonline.com/accutane/

Anonymous said...

Hello, atorvastatin online - lipitor without rx http://www.costoflipitoronline.net/#lipitor-without-rx

Anonymous said...

advitleva purchase premarin - premarin estrogen http://www.premarindiscount.com/

Anonymous said...

dalsCleax acomplia price - acomplia weight loss http://www.acompliadietpillcheap.com/#acomplia-weight-loss

Anonymous said...

Veterinary Medicine Withdrawal Times valium cost - order diazepam http://www.samskitchenonline.com/, [url=http://www.samskitchenonline.com/]purchase valium [/url]

Anonymous said...

Oc Pills buy lexapro online no prescription - cheap escitalopram http://www.costoflexaproonline.net/#cheap-escitalopram , cheap lexapro

Anonymous said...

tfv [url=http://www.maxaltonlinesale.net/#order-maxalt-online ]buy generic maxalt [/url] - cheap maxalt online - generic maxalt online http://www.maxaltonlinesale.net/#maxalt-online-no-prescription ,

Anonymous said...

tfv lamisil without rx - purchase lamisil http://www.lamisilonlinerx.net/#terbinafine-price, [url=http://www.lamisilonlinerx.net/#terbinafine-price]cheap terbinafine [/url]

Anonymous said...

sob gabapentin without prescription - order neurontin online http://www.neurontinonlinesales.net/#order-neurontin-online , [url=http://www.neurontinonlinesales.net/#cheap-neurontin ]cheap neurontin [/url]

Anonymous said...

Hello, generic soma online - soma without rx http://www.californiabarattorneysearch.net/#soma-without-rx , [url=http://www.californiabarattorneysearch.net/#buy-soma-online-without-rx ]buy soma online without rx [/url]

Anonymous said...

g, provigil online no prescription - modafinil without prescription http://www.thegooddoctormovie.com/#modafinil-without-prescription , [url=http://www.thegooddoctormovie.com/#modafinil-online-no-prescription ]modafinil online no prescription [/url]