Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Every year, despite the fact that I'm not part of any culture who traditionally does this, I set up a Dia De Los Muertos altar in our home. I know some folks get their knickers all up in a wad when they thing you are co-opting someone else's culture, but y'all, here in America we are all each other's culture. What makes us stronger is when we share. We are a culture comprised of a lot of multi-colored, multi-religious, multi-opinioned pieces that actually fit very well together when people aren't being total fuckwits about it. So yeah, sure, cherish and celebrate your own, absolutely. But cherish those of other folks too and celebrate them if it speaks to you. Let it be one thing we share rather than something that sets us farther apart. This has become a really meaningful tradition in our family each year and I'm glad it was there for us to learn from.

I was just going to let it pass by this year because of time and feeling a little disconnected, but as the day approached, I really felt like I needed to do it. I went digging for all my Dia De Los Muertos stuff and then spent a happy morning making fimo skullies and tiny roses for glueing into miniature altars made out of cardboard ring boxes, glitter, paint and loteria cards. I accidentally burned the fimo and made Uber Goth Dead Roses, which pleased me no end.

So here it is, in the beginning stages.




I need to get some pan de muertos, some mums and flowers and a bunch more candles, I need to make some food offerings which I'll do tomorrow, and then I think it's done. One of these years I want to do the whole big installation with a door and lots of room, but we are space challenged and this is about the best I can come up with and not disrupt the traffic flow around the house. Also, I know I'm a Jew and that's a skelly Virgin of Guadalupe but I found it irresistable. I'll grab a pic of the whole thing when it's lit up and the flowers and bread and offerings are out tomorrow night.

it's a good way to remember folks who I loved who want for remembrance.


Lucia said...

Don't you realize that if you mingle cultures like that, the terrorists will have won? We must Keep Things In Their Boxes, or who knows what could happen? I have to go read Hugh Hewitt now.

Seriously, it looks fabu, a lovely mix of silly, scary and solemn.

Oh, and the Grafton Fibers thing? (chuckles evilly) (disappears in puff of roving)

Laura said...

Looks awesome! I was just talking to someone today about Dia de los Muertos and how I must have been Latina in another life because I feel so much more in tune with their traditions than other ones.

Will Pillage For Yarn said...

There are a lot of things from a lot of cultures that I really seem to resonate with. Perhaps I am just a folkloric person in general. I see a lot of merit in traditions, though I see equal merit in breaking them some of the time, or updating them.

Whatever works, you know? Pee on a sparkplug if it makes it go.

Mouse said...

I think its awesome.. I love the skelly Guadolupe.. that's very cool. I collect mexican religious candles because I think they are gorgeous... I don't think it matters what religion I am when I light them. I did a sugar skull swap a year or so ago and I got a beautiful one with feathers for hair.. I need to dig it out.

Z said...

Not MY thing but I love that it's YOURS :) You do it so well too :D

Anonymous said...

I think your Dia de los Muertos altar is awesome. If you're Jewish and it speaks to you, all the more power to you. I only wish I had the means to import that tradition to the UK. But sugar skull molds just aren't to be found here, for one. :)

Roxie said...

There are things that speak to our inner primitives - traditions our ancestors evolved to meet real needs. So the display on Halloween means more to you than the flowers at the cemetary in May? Yes, it would take a fuckwit to protest.

I'm thinking of doing a solstice wheel this December. And on Dec. 21st, I'm going to light all the candles and turn the wheel so I can have a hand in turning the world back to the light. Other folks may think it's an Adevent wreath. That's Ok with me.

Kendra said...

Well, actually (as I go all anthropological on you), Dia de los Muertos is an evolution of old Indian culture as it mingled with Catholic culture in the New World. The Catholic culture of all souls day was created in an attempt to pry the Celts away from their Pagen rituals and keep their minds on Christ.

Of course, the Church learned that it's easier to sanctify and adapt pagen rituals and make them appear Christian then it is to ban them.

So every holiday that is celebrated is a marriage of countless customs, some adapted from ritual thousands of years old.

OK-- enough with the history, I'm not a professor, I just play one. Great Alter, I'm glad you shared!

LizKnits said...

Everything looks fabulous and you inspire me to try my own. Can't wait to see the "finished" photo.

Will Pillage For Yarn said...

Phoe, you know you can get sugar skull molds online and they might ship to the UK. The URL is here: http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/mexicansugarskull/

Amy said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm having a DOTD celebration and felt sort of guilty about the co-opting thing...but I think DOTD is such a wonderful tradition, so much better than the American "death is horrible let's not talk about it or face it" approach.

Moon said...

God I love this! I ADORE day of the dead...I even have a huge day of the dead skull, roses and spider with candy corn and webbing tattoo'd on my arm. It goes from mid lower arm to mid upper arm with the point of my elbow in the skulls forehead.

Memento Mori...remember, you too will die.

I think we forget that, in our current culture.

;0) Moon

Jess said...

Amen sister! (says the american-style bellydancer...) I love el dia too, because it's so *happy*. So much of the standard death tradition is all about mourning and loss and resting in peace. This one, though is all about "I love you and I remember what you loved about life, and I know you're still out there". Mourning has its place, but this strikes me as a much healthier way for the long-term.