Lost in the shuffle between Halloween and Christmas is a holiday that a growing segment of Americans hold in higher regard than Thanksgiving—the Day of the Dead. Of the “minor holidays?—those that don’t provide a day off from work but still validate the consumption of alcohol—the Day of the Dead intrigues me the most.

Beyond being able to butcher the pronunciation of “Dia de los Muertos,? I’m no expert on the subject by any means. My understanding of the Day of the Dead is that it’s essentially the pagan tradition of honoring dead ancestors practiced by the indigenous civilizations of Mexico combined with their Spanish conqueror’s celebration of All Saint’s Day (the day sandwiched between Halloween and All Souls Day). I like the idea of a holiday where those that have passed are honored by celebrating.

To me, that makes much more sense than taking flowers to a place where the recipient will never see them. After seeing a number of bodies that have been exhumed, I have a tendency to view cemeteries as nothing more than an underground biological reclamation site. To me, visiting a grave site makes as much sense as going to a library where books with blank pages have been archived.

For more information on the Day of the Dead, consult your local library. For best results, consult one where the books have words.


5 Responses to “”

  1. November 3, 2005 at 9:11 am

    “visiting a grave site makes as much sense as going to a library where books with blank pages have been archived”

    Very nice.

  2. November 3, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    Great post. Italy has their own version called
    “Il Giorno dei Morti” or the Italian Memorial Day. Tradition dictates that one bake cookies, called Ossa dei Morti, the Bones of the Dead, for the occasion.

    I hadn’t heard of the Italian version before, but it sounds interesting. Much more so than the American version which seems to be focused on blockbuster movie releases, large quanities of beer at the (insert body of water here), and home improvement projects.

    A Douglas

  3. 3 Dawn
    November 4, 2005 at 2:15 am

    Now, thats why I tell my family to give me flowers, while I still have a nose to smell them!!!!

    It seems to me, that the people I personally know who have lost loved ones tend to fall into two catagories.

    The first, are those that have a strong belief in God, they feel that the soul goes to heaven…they seem to spend less time in a cemetary as they view the buried body as a “empty shell”, they can “let go” and have faith, that they will reunite with their loved one again.

    The second group are those that are unsure of a God or “what lies beyond the grave” and are so emotionally wounded by the loss of a love one, that they try to cling to them.

    I guess too, that there is a natural “fear” about death and all that is associated with it. By having these rituals, it serves to ” make light” of this and by doing so…..maybe, helps to over come that fear?

    As for me……you would never catch me sitting by a grave….I watched ” Day of the dead” when I was 10 and saw that hand reach out from that grave and grab the leg of that girl…..YIKES!!!


  4. November 4, 2005 at 9:34 am

    I’m pretty sure there’s an equivilant day in every culture. I mean, Britain has pagan traditions that are similar. Ukraine has something much the same too.


  5. January 25, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    Excellent site and thanks for including a note of respect about the day of the dead! I most definitely agree about the cemetery visiting. It seems so hollow but then I’m one who tends to think of funerals in general as a service for the living.

    When I’m gone… I say plant my feet in a bucket of cement and drop me overboard.


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