Day of the Dead: Celebration to honor your ancestors a festive affair, event to be held in Truckee
October 26, 2010
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; jMama Mia! In the very short lifetime of my two small girls we have put down our dog, watched two grandmothers pass away and lost a few friends to ski accidents. I am not affiliated with any church in particular and as a result I always struggle with ways to talk to my girls about death. Is there an easy answer?
Letand#8217;s put your pagan spirit at rest by saying this is the perfect time of year to address such a dilemma. If we turn our attentions toward Mexico and take advantage of our local heritage we can easily pay tribute to our dearly departed with a wonderful festival: el Dia de los Muertos! Granted these are a people heavily governed by their Catholic ways, and El Festival de las Calaveras (as it is also known) has spread roots throughout the church; however, the rest of us heathens can simply take what we like and toss the rest at very little moral expenditure. After all, The Day of the Dead began as an ancient Aztec celebration and many people today continue to debate its existence as a cultural tradition rather than a religious affair.
If you are lucky enough to be in Mexico from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 you can partake in a more public spectacle at the local cemetery, but if you are stateside you can celebrate the homecoming of your loved ones with a private ofrenda or home altar covered in offerings. El Dia de los Muertos is a time to laugh in deathand#8217;s face, mock it, have fun with it, but also a time to give thanks for the lives of those we miss. Itand#8217;s a time to share memories, laugh and cry. Sugar skulls decorated with colorful frosting, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), bunches of marigolds, even hot chocolate help turn grief into acceptance. The belief is that the dead visit their families and enjoy their favorite foods, drinks, music, games, whatever has been laid out for them at the ofrenda while the living enjoy each otherand#8217;s company. This is togetherness and family at its best!
and#8220;The Festival of the Bonesand#8221; by Luis San Vicente and and#8220;Clatter Bashand#8221; by Richard Keep are two terrific childrenand#8217;s books that will help you learn a bit more through a great story and beautiful pictures followed by recipes and ideas. A website with really great visuals and tons more info can be found at mexconnect.com
However, this and#8220;easy answerand#8221; doesnand#8217;t address the issue of where did everyone go? From where are they returning? Are they still alive somewhere else? The Bahaand#8217;i Faith is an international vision of spirituality that may help to answer questions without choosing sides. It basically takes all the best of each religion and mixes it all up under the auspices of unity and oneness. For a smorgasbord to the heavens visit bahai.org. If you want to keep your moral training to yourself by keeping the labels at bay, then go it alone and read more Buddhist teachings or Confucian studies to bask in the light of positivity that will then permeate your conversations in a much more subtle way.
Otherwise, continue the dialogue that begins, and#8220;some people believe and#8230; and other people believe and#8230;and#8221; You wonand#8217;t run into trouble until the girls get old enough to ask and#8220;and what do we believe?and#8221; It tough. For now try a new path: Put out the scotch, put on the Frank Sinatra and relive the glory days with oleand#8216; grannie and gramps. jGracias por la vida!
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Join the Family Resource Center of Truckee for their 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Celebration, Truckee Elementary School, 11911 Donner Pass Road, Nov. 6, 2-6 p.m. Enjoy food, entertainment, artistic displays, arts and crafts, and an exciting raffle with a selection of prizes. Free and open to community. There will be food to purchase, bouncy house and prizes to be won. All proceeds benefit the Family Resource Center of Truckee. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-587-2513.