The Day of the Dead

Here’s a colorful and cheerful website devoted to El Dia de (los) Muertos, perhaps the world’s most colorful and cheerful thanatocentric celebration.

As a child in Wellington, New Zealand during the 1970s, I was hardly aware of Latin American culture other than via Spanish-language segments on Sesame Street. That said, I seem to recall first (somehow) becoming aware of the Dia de Muertos tradition as a teenager, and that it instantly appealed to me. In contrast to the largely hushed, dour and mournful attitudes to death that we Kiwis had inherited from Mother England, I loved the notion of accepting and celebrating mortality as a natural part of life and joyfully recalling the lives of the departed.

It’s also a welcome complement or alternative to Halloween, which may (or may not) be a celebration now sadly lost to corporate commercialism and submerged in pop-culture irony. We can, perhaps, imagine a fusion of these two festivals via the Great American Melting Pot; though I do hope that would involve an infusion of Dia de Muertos soul into Halloween, rather than the reverse.

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