I have to confess that it wasn’t too many years ago that I was creeped out by Día de Los Muertos. It seemed morbid, with its Catrinas, sugar coffins, dancing skeletons, and all manner of what appeared to be ghoulish things. But that view, alas, was born of ignorance. Fortunately, I was enlightened after I met F and spent a few Días de Los Muertos in DF. There I learned that it was a remembrance and celebration of loved ones lost to death. But these departed aren’t somber and depressed. No. They are often depicted as partying and living it up, in true Mexican style. This spirit is captured well by a poem I found on an ofrenda along Reforma. (I’ve done my best to translate, but it’s a bit rough as you can see.)
Las pelonas montones al Zócalo llegaron ya,
Con la sorpresa en el rostro de que ambulantes no hay.
Vente mi carnal Marcelo, a echar rumba y chupar.
La Catrina y el Catrín, cuanta rumba ya se traen.
Su querido Centro Histórico, cuantos recuerdos les trae.
El erotismo de cuevas en el Zócalo se siente.
Escondan a las calacas que a enamorarlas el viene.
In the Zócalo the crowd of skulls has now arrived with faces of surprise,
As there are no living strollers.
Come my buddy Marcelo, let us drink and dance.
The Catrina and the Catrín, oh how they still can move,
As their beloved Zócalo brings back a rush of memories.
The eroticism of the tomb is felt here in the Zócalo,
As it hides amongst the skeletons,
It comes to make them
fall in love again.
So may we all pause to remember our loved ones in their prime, happy, dancing, laughing, and drinking. And may their death be as rich and beautiful as this special Mexican tradition suggests.
So I dedicate this post to the memory of my grandparents, my great aunt, and the various friends I’ve lost through the years.
You are gone, but not forgotten. May you dance forevermore in the afterlife.