Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
One of the many blessings of growing up in and around the Southwestern United States was being exposed to the celebration of Dia de los Muertos (the day of the dead).elebrated between November 1st and 2nd
The Day of the Dead is a celebration of what we would as Christians call All Saints and All Souls (Faithful Departed). Perhaps the most popular recent example Dia de los Muertos in American popular culture is the Pixar film Coco!. The film is about a young man who takes up the guitar (what’s not to like?) and seeks to discover family secrets through his observance of Dia de los Muertos.
This year I would like to invite you all to participate in putting together a Dia de los Muertos/Samhain altar here at St. Thomas in the chapel. Beginning this Sunday, October 27th, please bring framed photos of loved ones along with small tokens of remembrance (things they loved in this life) to decorate the front of the altar. We will leave the ofrenda up from October 31st through November 7th as a way of remembering those we love but see no longer.
At the heart of DDLM is that for that day families celebrate their faithful departed by the building and maintaining of elaborate altars or ‘ofrendas’ featuring photos, favored foods and beverages, symbols of passions and other mementos of their loved ones who have died. The notion is that in the building of these altars (in homes and in cemeteries, among other places) loved ones are invited and allowed to return to earth for a visit on that day and night. In fact one of the days is set aside in particular for children who have died (November 2nd). Sort of like Trick or Treat in our celebration of Halloween (the Eve of all Hallows).
The practice is one that has analogs in other areas of the world. In ancient Celtic a similar festival observing the end of the harvest Samhain was celebrated between October 31st and November 1st. This is considered to be one of the ‘thin times’ when the veil between this world and the next became particularly thin, allowing the departed to return to earth for a time and visit the people and places they loved. In the 9th century the Church shifted the celebration of All Saints and All Souls to November 1st and November 2nd, respectively.
May their souls and the souls of all the Faithful Departed rest in peace,
And may light perpetual shine upon them.