Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween vs Day of the Dead

From the Crockett Chronicles - 26 October 2014
On Thursday, the sun decided to shine for the first time this week, so we decided to do a few errands before the missionaries would be coming for lunch.   Our errands were simple things but needed done and we had limited time.  We took the local bus to Chedraui, our local grocery store, to pay our phone and electricity bills.  While there, we noticed a table stacked high with boxes.  We noticed “Pan de Muerto” was printed on these boxes and that means “bread of the dead.” Next to that table was another table filled with different sized candles and little statues.  So we just took pictures and decided to ask the sister missionaries about the bread when they came over for lunch.

 We then flagged down a “colectivo” and paid our 8 pesos each to have the driver drop us off at H.E.B. ... Since we had our camera with us and while at H.E.B. we took photos of their seasonal aisle that was the same as we would see in the USA and definitely had a Halloween theme including inflatable displays.  They had an entire aisle of costumes and bags of candy with “dulce o truko” printed on the bag or...“trick or treat.”

Our next stop was to walk to Soriana, another store where we find a particular brand of wheat crackers we like that aren't found in the other stores but they weren't to be found this week—maybe next week.  Our real reason to come was to have some photos printed and Soriana is the best place to do that.  Our circuit from store to store to store to home took us about two hours and we arrived in time to set the table before the missionaries arrived.

We learned from the missionaries and since then from asking others and checking the internet, that Halloween isn't a big holiday in Mexico and we realized it was the American based H.E.B. that had the big Halloween display.  It was the local Mexican stores that had the “Pan de Muerto” for sale.   The missionaries said they love to eat the sweet “Pan de Muerto” and said it tastes really good especially with hot chocolate.  Apparently there is symbolism involved in the “Pan de Muerto” and the round loaves are topped with strips of rolled dough in the form of a cross that represents bones of the deceased.  The crossed bones have small mounds on them which is symbolic of tears for the living. We asked the missionaries if this holiday had a Catholic Church base to it and they said they think it is just Mexican and not especially Catholic....

In Mexico, November 1 and 2 are the traditional days to celebrate what they call the “Dia de Muertos” or “Day of the Dead” and it is not connected with Halloween at all.  During this very special two day holiday, families gather together and people remember those in their family who have passed away.  Apparently November 1 is dedicated to the souls of children and November 2 is dedicated to adults who have passed away.  People display photos of their loved ones in their homes and some build small altars in remembrance of the loved ones.  The living share their memories and experiences they had with those who have passed on.  They prepare the food that their loved ones used to enjoy. Cemeteries are cleaned and flowers are put on the graves. The families place the lighted candles on the graves “as a way to illuminate the path of the souls” in behalf of those who have died.

Below are the photos of the altar the students at the Saldivar school built. 

Hna. Saldivar is in the black blouse.

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