Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead

As most people know the Day of the Dead is almost like that of Halloween, the only difference is that it not celebrating the tricks or treats. Instead the day is to celebrate your lost loved ones death, where ofrendas, “offerings” which is a table is set up covered with a tablecloth. On the table there are candles meant for our deceased relatives to find their way back home but only just for this one night. Now most of you are probably frighten and think that this is of a voodoo scene, it’s not that way at all, and it’s actually quite peaceful and special. We are simply honoring the memory of our ancestors and legend has it that it’s the night they came back from the dead. Nothing spooky right? Along with the candles we set up their favorite foods, favorite objects, and lastly the most important part a picture of them. Down below is a photo of how ofrendas should be.

day daed1

If you notice closely to the background of this ofrenda, my most favorite painting is up. Here is a closer picture.

day dead2

The artist was named José Guadalupe Posada. He is known for his most famous drawings of Calaveras Spanish word for skulls. What I like most of his drawings was that he brings humor into them. Most people define death a horrible thing, which I believe it can be but he brought back fun into life by making the skeletons look warm and inviting, after all we all turn into skeletons we all can’t be that scary. I like to look at art with the knowledge of what the background is about for example; this drawing is well known and used most in ofrendas because it basically symbolizes an ancestor coming back to “life” to visit their families. The picture reminded me of home because of its location, if you look closely to the background the statue is El Ángel de la Independencia, the angel of independence which is in Mexico City. Another reason to why I favored this drawing is the people within the drawing, again knowing the knowledge of art pieces before reading its description. The skeleton is walking along with his live husband to her right in behind her is Frida Kahlo, another well-known famous artist with her artistic husband Diego Rivera. To the skeleton’s left are the famous politicians and veterans to symbolize the Mexican revolution. What can I say, you teach a lot of Mexican culture in just one drawing or in this case my blog!:) here is a Fascinating link that I highly recommend that all you check it out and realized that our culture is our Art!

My questions to you are..

  • Do you think death should be celebrated or mourned?
  •  I love learning new cultures, other than this Mexican tradition are there other cultures that do something similar to this holiday? Would you do this in your home?
  • I told you my favorite parts in this picture what were your top two?

Artist: José Guadalupe Posada

By: Guadalupe Medina

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14 thoughts on “Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead

  1. I liked the concept. It is very interesting I read about Tanala of eastern Madagascar have lavish funerals and they celebrated the death of the person. I remember the picture in my book showed people all dressed up smiling and laughing while they had they were carrying the dead body on their shoulders. That was the first time I came across this idea and I was shocked to know about it. My favorite part is the skeleton as well. It looks so funny.

  2. This blog hits deep within me for so many reasons that I almost did not want to comment on. First, thank you for writing a blog topic that has reminded me of who I am and of the culture of which I am a part. Second, it gave me pause to read, digest and gather my thoughts, and because I did not respond right away it allowed me to take in a musical performance that has also helped me to make my blog comment.

    On a personal level, I was not looking forward to Dia de los Muertos; it coincides with the day of a birthday celebration of my best friend who has passed away. My thoughts were conflicted as to how I could participate on a day when sadness and grief have been the norm for me. For a different class project, I took in The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hallowed Haunts performance on Saturday, and I was pleasantly surprised when it featured the Sones de México Ensemble, with Laura Crotte providing narration of the performance and further explanation of Dia de los Muertos. Between this blog and the symphony performance I was reminded that just because a loved one is gone it does not mean that we cannot honor and respect their absence with joy and celebration.

    I believe we live in a culture where we are taught to fear death, yet because of this blog I have been reminded that I am part of multicultural background with which I have let myself become out of touch. So, for this year, I will celebrate those that I miss, just like my abuelita and tia (nana and aunt). I celebrated the day when I was a kid, and those are some of my fondest childhood memories. It is a part of who I am.

    What I like about the drawings, Calaveras, is that I now am seeing the man embracing the Calaveras hand with a smile, and not as fearfully as I first did. And the inclusion of statue of El Angel de la Independencia also brought fond memories as it has been forever since I have been to el distrito federal, Mexico City.

    Again, thank you for selecting this topic as your blog, it has reminded me that the people I miss the most are the ones that always wanted me to celebrate and live life the most… and now I will start again to do so!

  3. I love that drawing, especially how the dead are walking side by side with the living. While most of us mourn death, but this concept shows us that we should celebrate their lives and rejoice that they lived a happy life. Thanks for teaching us about Mexican culture!

  4. Cool post! I love the fact that death is being celebrated respectfully. The Mexican culture is really interesting so I enjoyed reading about this. I’m not sure if i would do this in my own home though. That’s a hard question. I like the whole offrenda. I like the idea of how much thought and feelings are put into making it special for their loved ones. If their spirirts were to come down to earth on that day im sure they’d be delighted.

  5. Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos have always been my favorite holidays ever since I was a child because I thought of how much creativity goes into both holidays and how deep into another world they put you in. In American culture, Halloween is a time to dress up and put yourself in any character of your choice, but in el Dia de Los Muertos we get to celebrate those whom are not thought of that much throughout the rest of the year, our loved ones who have passed. Being a skull collector, not actual skulls of course, I admire the art that goes into making day of the dead skulls which are my favorite part of the day of the dead. It’s about decorating something that is seen as frightening to the rest of the world and making it beautiful to look at and admire. I am glad you posted about this to educate and remind some of us of our culture on this magical time of the year.

  6. What I find interesting in this painting is in front of the husband with dead skeleton wife is a lady in yellow looking at the husband as if she is jealous. I wonder if he had found some else after the passing of his wife. I also think it is important to remember our lost love ones and to have a day of remembrance is important.

  7. Lupe, thanks for sharing a little bit about Mexican culture along with your artwork. I was unaware what was being celebrated by this holiday, I’ve heard people talk about it but didn’t know what it was. The things that stood out to me in the picture were the overriding yellow color of the background giving it kind of a surreal feeling, also the hot air ballon, is there any specific meaning to it?

  8. I’ve heard of and learned some things about the Day of the Dead when I took Spanish class for seven years. It is an interesting concept, although to answer your question about death I would say there is a time to mourn and celebrate it. When it comes to losing a loved one it can be emotionally devastating and sometimes hard to have the mind set of “being in a better place”. After some time has passed I could picture the idea of celebrating their life every year as a reminder of your love for them.

  9. Lupe, this is a very interesting topic. I love the picture and the skeleton wearing such fancy clothes. What a joyful way to remember ancestors. It reminds me of All Saints’s Day/All Souls Day. I grew up Catholic and all I knew was that this way a day the my mother said we had to go to church. It wasn’t until I started working for a global flower company that I realized the different customs in other cultures to honer departed loved ones. As your link shows, this holdiay is celebrated with flowers just like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. Sure, bringing flowers to a gravesite is something I was familiar with, but staying and having a “party” at the gravesite with food and music was something that I found very interesting. Celebrating the loved ones memory rather than mournin gthe loss.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Day I agree with you that our culture is our Art!hi

  10. Perfect post for this week especially! I found the painting to be an over all summary in a sense of why Dia De Los Muertos is so important. The painting shows a celebration of life rather than a mourning of the dead; which is exactly what it is. I found it really interesting that you posted the picture of an actual grave celebration highlighting the painting in the background. Awesome to see this painting is still very prevalent!

  11. I liked how you taught us a little bit about your culture in your blog post. It’s interesting how different cultures see death differently. I’ve heard about this tradition before but I have never seen a pictures of the tables before. I love how much detail and work they put into them. Posada’s work really depicts a different perspective on death. I think it’s perfect for a holiday like this. It just makes you want to smile and be happy.

  12. this is pretty cool because many Latin American countries celebrate Day of the Dead. My mom is from Guatemala and even though she doesn’t celebrate this I’ve heard about it from her. I’ve also gone to a Mexican art museum and it is amazing what a huge part of Latin American culture is.

  13. I think death is something to be celebrated but mourned at the same time. I thought it was cool that you were able to teach us a little bit about yourself and your background through this art. In elementary school I remember learning a little about the concept and have always wanted to learn more. Very interesting post!

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