The most famous holiday in Mexico is today, The Day of the Dead. It’s a day were large numbers of tourists descend upon Mexico to watch a range of artistic displays, carnivals, even ritual performances all around the theme of death. Plus there are skulls, lots and lots of skulls and skeletons too, all confronting mortality in ways that honor the deceased. Some have described this day as Mexico’s obsession with death, a fondness for dying and reverence for the deceased. Today is also Mexico’s version of the Roman Catholic celebration of All Souls Days. A day we celebrate the souls of people like my father and my father in-law from whom we are able to flourish.
Stanley Brandes in his article entitled ‘Is there a Mexican View of Death,’ noted how today is so salient in Mexico than anywhere else, as a form of national identity, an effective way to create and maintain ethnic and national boundaries in an era of globalization’s where boundaries become porous. But it’s the ubiquitous presence of skulls, in whimsical colors and humor, as an aesthetically pleasing acceptance of death that makes this day unique and creative for me. For art today, my son took a stab at creating his version of a skull mask to celebrate the day. Any color was permissible, whether blue teeth or red shaped heart nose, or purple eyes or flowers in orange or green, so long as it made him happy, we were pleased. Perhaps the skulls are living. Perhaps they are dead. We, like the skulls celebrated today, are the ones who need color, to continue to fulfill our roles on earth, from one descendant to another, as we confront life, confront our living. Keep coloring the dead, keep coloring life, today and beyond.