Day of the Dead Links
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Dias de los Muertos is the most distinctive holiday of  Mexico's calendar. The belief underlying all ceremonies is that the spirits of the dead return to earth on this day to be with their families and loved ones - to eat, drink, be merry and relive the good memories. 
 

  For Mexicans believe in the life/death/rebirth continuum -  they treat death as an equal part of life. Day of the Dead originated with the Olmecs -the first Mesoamerican civilization centered in Veracruz,  whose origins remain mysterious  - but it is hard to escape the correlations with the other earlier pyramid building culture that  also was informed by intimate knowledge of the cosmos: the Egyptians.
Since April 1996, Carnaval.com has fulfilled its mission as the web's most important portal for the greatest people's celebrations in the world. Underlying this commitment  is an assumption that San Francisco represents the spiritual or creative center of the new age we are entering as one , increasingly interconnected people. We all share the cycle of life, which for most of us means: life - death - rebirth.  skull

The Carnaval celebration is rebirth made conscious as the joy and embrace of living. With this page we complete an important cycle of our own, chronicling the equaling important, if more solemn occasion of death, from the perspective of the great culture of Mexico. San Francisco's Mission district and Dia de Los Muertos commemoration will again also co-host this journey.  
 

Best of the Web

 
  Dia de Los Muertos by azcentral.com || Altar Video || Altar
"Exceptionally good!!"

ACCESS MEXCIO CONNECT

Day of the Dead in Mexico
Articles & photo galleries.

The Month of Miccailhuitontli  
A look at the origins and evolution of the Day of the Dead festival, originally celebrated during the month of Miccailhuitontli on the Aztec calendar
Guide to Day of the Dead by
Boise Matthews at Las Culturas

Holidays.Net
Celebrate the holiday with dancing skeletons and music.

What Do Mexicans Celebrate on "The Day of the Dead?"
A time when Mexican families remember their dead, and the continuity of life"
Fiestas de la Vida
  ASU Art Museum 
"The first two days of November, known as All Saints' Day (Dia de Todos los Santos, and All Souls' Day - Dia de los Muertos), are central to this religious holiday, one which has both pre-Hispanic and Christian origins. To the Aztecs, death signified not an end but a phase in a constant cycle"

"With a mestizo past, not unlike the inhabitants of this country, these festivities are the result of an intermarriage of the way our indigenous ancestors and the Catholic religion from our Spanish roots viewed death. Life, for the inhabitants of Mesoamerica, was just a fleeting moment. Death was an awakening of a dream in the present to enter the world of the dead and appear before different gods, depending on the type of event that took their life. Those who perished as a result of a sacrifice or of war became com-panion to the sun"

DayoftheDead.com  In 1998, Mary J.Andrade began publishing in a four-part bilingual series of books titled: “Through the Eyes of theLa Oferta Soul, Day of the Dead in Mexico,”  Her site is affiliated with the leading San Jose bilingual paper La Oferta.

Life and Death in ancient Mexico 

"These people's shaman told them of a spirit world behind the apparent reality. Birth was an emerging from this world of spirit. Death was a descent back into it. In an unending cycle, the crops died and were born again -- 
if the spirit world permitted it."

 

The word ‘death’ is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips...The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and his most steadfast love.
- Octavio Paz -

 

Elsewhere

 


Day of the Dead in Oaxaca


Illuminated by the Albuquerque Bridge, Japanese volunteers place candle lit lanterns into the Sasebo River during the Obon festival.


An Obon offering.


Bon Odori Dancers


Dia de Los Muertos in Janitzio


Arte Popular in Oaxaca is Calavera de la Catrina by Posada


Panteon in Janitizio -- Day of the Dead offerings

Celebrations in Mexico || Phoenix || About Day of the Dead || Photo Gallery
You can enjoy Dia de los Muertos celebrations in cities across Mexico and the United States.

Oaxaca Comes Alive - Guadalajara & Lake Chapala
Traditional observances of Day of the Dead are still very much alive in Southern Mexico and particularly Oaxacan, where indigenous traditions are thriving.

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca
Beliefs and Celebrations (Maria Diaz) Cemetery Guid
e

Day of the Dead in Janitzio
Characteristic of this region are the wooden arches that the families create and adorn with cempasuchil and fruits for the tombs in the cemetery. A very interesting tradition is that for the first three years that follow the passing away of a person, every November first, it is the godparents of the deceased who decorate the arch.  When they finish, they go to the parents’ house and lovingly offer it to them.

 

Fire animationSamhaim Festival at The Sacred Fire (Celtic) || sacredfire.net || Links
"Our modern celebration of Halloween is a descendent of the ancient Celtic festival called "Samhain;" meaning Summer's End. Samhain was the first day of winter, and the end of one pastoral year. It was the time when the night became longer than the day, the last apples were picked, and the year began again with its dark winter half. Also called Samhiunn or Hallowe'en, this festival is sometimes called Trinoux Samonia or "Three Nights of the End of Summer...
 Originally a Druidic festival, it was celebrated on the eve of November 1 (October 31 - technically, either date is appropriate as the Celts measured the day from sunset to sunset). It is balanced by Beltane (or Bealtaine, Beltaine) which signals the start of summer, 6 months later."

Editor's Note: Beltane is also associated with May Day, one of the most celebrated holidays of the 20th century.

Araw ng mga Patay
In the Philippines, it is called Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead), Undas or Todos Los Santos (since this holiday is celebrated on November 1, All Saints Day, designated by the Catholic Church), and has more of a "family reunion" atmosphere. It is said to be an "opportunity to be with" the departed and is done in a somewhat solemn way. Tombs are cleaned or repainted, candles are lit, and flowers are offered. Since it's supposed to be about spending time with dead relatives, families usually camp in cemeteries, and sometimes spend a night or two near their relatives' tombs. Card games, eating, drinking, singing and dancing are common activities in the cemetery, probably to alleviate boredom. It is considered a very important holiday by many Filipinos (after Christmas and Holy Week), and additional days are normally given as special nonworking holidays (but only November 1 is a regular holiday).

O-bon, or simply Bon, is the Japanese version of the Ghost Festival. It has since been transformed over time into a family reunion holiday during which people from the big cities return to their home towns and visit and clean their ancestors' graves.

Traditionally including a dance festival, it has existed in Japan for more than 500 years. It is held from 13th of July to the 16th ("Welcoming Obon" and "Farewell Obon" respectively) in the eastern part of Japan (Kanto), and in August in the western part (Kansai).

 

 


China & Japan

In the Chinese tradition, the seventh month in the Chinese calendar is called the Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits come out from the under world to visit earth. The Ghost Festival is the climax of a series of the Ghost Month celebrations. Activities at the festival include preparing ritualistic offering food, and burning hell money to please the visiting ghosts and spirits, as well as deities and ancestors. Other activities include, burying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies "giving directions to the lost ghosts."


The Qingming Festival, or Ching Ming Festival used in Hong Kong, literally Clear and Bright Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice, usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar (see Chinese calendar). Astronomically, it is also a solar term (See Qingming). Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime (踏青 Tàqīng, "treading on the greenery"), and also to tend to the graves of departed ones. It is an official public holiday in the Republic of China, as well as in Hong Kong and Macau though not in mainland China.

 

Travel Tales

 
 
 
ACCESS TO MEXICO CONNECT

Day of the Dead


Celebrating the Days of the Dead: the heart speaks clearly in Michoacan (Cat Gonzalez)
A Journey With La Calaca
B
ill Begalke for mexconnect
"My destination was Nopala, a mystical place, high in the purple mountains. I was told that of all the villages in Oaxaca, only in Nopala would truly witness the warp and weft of centuries of tradition"

Your GuideDay of the Dead
Breads and candies that celebrate life and death.
Your Guide Dia de los Muertos - Alternative Religions
Your Guide The Days of The Dead - Go SouthWest Your Guide Dia de los Muertos - Death and Dying
 Day of  The Dead - Go Mexico with  Jody Miller   

 

Glossary

Butterflies & Hummingbirds
 

alfenique are Sugar Skulls with colored icing are good to share with friends and relatives 
angelitos -
the souls of the children who have died, literally "little angels" Nov. 1 is Night of the Angels for infants and little children who died too soon
atole
- an ancient drink made from corn meal and water flavored with various fruits.
calabaza en tacha
pumpkin cooked in a brown sugar syrup
calaveras -
a skull or skeleton, The calaveras often poke fun at death, which shows the playful attitude many Mexicans have toward that part of the cycle of life.
calveras - songs and poems about the festival
careta -
a face mask
cempazuchitl, zempasuchil or Marigold flowers -
an Aztec symbol of death and Dia de Los Muertos  used to decorate graves and altars often in a cross or arch pattern. Also popular as a pathway marker to the altar
copalli - incense
made from pine resin, the Aztecs used long ago in offerings to their gods believed to attract the souls of the dead, as well as to ward off evil spirits. Also used to make candles
Fire and fireworks
believed that spirits of the deceased are attracted to the sight and sound of fireworks
ofrenda - offerings,
of candles, fruit, flowers, food, and drink are prepared for the enjoyment of the returning souls of the dead and set out on the altars
pan de los muertos - Bread
a rich coffee cake perhaps decorated with meringues made to look like bones is placed on the altar before being shared by participants
Papel Picado
traditional paper cutting:
Posadas
Skeleton images by Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) master Mexican printer long associated with Day of the Dead 

Photographs & Personal Belongings

Photographs of deceased loved ones as well as their favorite items are placed on the altar to show the spirits that they are still remembered.

Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico and  
crucifixes of Jesus
are often used for decoration and serve as a reminder of the religious significance of Day of the Dead

A Celebration of Life and Death on the Web
From Jacalyn Lopez Garcia.  explanations of the many symbols used in the Day of the Dead celebration.

Glossary

 

Aztecs believed souls might return as butterflies and hummingbirds

Monarch Watching
E
very autumn Monarch Butterflies, which have summered up north in the United States and Canada, return to Mexico for the winter protection of the oyamel fir trees in the mountains of  the state of Michoacan (150 miles west of Mexico City near El Rosario). The local inhabitants welcome back the returning butterflies, which they believe bear the spirits of their departed -  the spirits to be honored during Los Dias de los Muertos.

Butterflyevents.com of Los Gatos, Califnornia (Near San Jose) will provide your event with Monarch butterflies
Monarch Links || Photos

 

 

Celebrating Day of the Dead

 
 

Food and Sugar Skull links

mexicansugarskull.com || Make your own Sugar Skulls Ventura Blvd., Studio City CA 
Make molded sugar skulls. English and Spanish 

Recipe for Sugar Skulls
From the About.com Guide to Mexico for Visitors.  Create your own sugar skulls in celebration of the Mexican holiday.  A great activity for children.

Pan

Day of the Dead Recipes  ||  Recipes for the traditional Pan de Muerto and Calaveras de dulces or alfeniques.
Pan de Muertos - Recipe
 
How to make & decorate.

Pan de los Muertos by mexconnect.com
Recipe for "Day of the Dead Bread."
Pan de Muertos
, one in English and the other in Spanish.

Create: Alters & Papel Picado

Los arcos (las ofrendas) 
"After the beloved spirit has partaken of the items placed on the altar, the food is shared with family and friends who have converged on this occasion to share in the reunion of life and death"

A Personal Altar
Doing your own Altar for November 1 (Cat Gonzales)
tar


P
apel picado
"Common colors selected for the altar de muertos --purple to symbolize mourning and hot pink or bright orange to signify the joyful return of the departed--underline the bittersweet nature of the holiday."

Paper Cutouts by Carmen Lomas
shown at right

 

 

Photos & Video

 
 

At Latinbayarea.com
DIA DE MUERTOS- MEX. HERITAGE CORP

 [F] Halloween San Francisco 
 [F] Day of the Dead Images
Our photo links collection

Marvin Perton — Festivities & Photos

Ofrendas - A Significant Part of Honoring
 Ancestors.  by Dale Palfrey for mexconnect.com

 
 

Links

 


Art galleries from ddfolkart.com


Oscar Soteno


Miguel Gonzalez


Juan Hernadez


Jose Luis Serrano

 

Teacher Resources || Tours & Travel || Books

Posada Links

Calacas from Holidays.net  
Calacas are handmade skeleton figurines used during the celebration.  This site offers photos of several unique and interesting examples of the craft.

New artists from the state of Oaxaca. set up in conjunction with Oaxaca's finest contemporary art gallery, Click to View

 

Links to the Dead  

Check out  Rich Vazquez's deep articulate site for thousands of well reviewed Latin Links. Formerly with about.com

Ancestor Resource Directory (US) at pbs.org 
This is a good starting point for genealogical searches organized by US state

Houses some of the most comprehensive databases online. Bringing your relatives back to life is also a good way to follow an inward journey.

Dia de Los Murtos on Wikipedia || Death Customs
"The holiday is especially popular in Mexico where it is a national holiday, and is celebrated in the Philippines, in Mexican-American communities in the United States, and to a lesser extent, in other Latin American countries. It is a public holiday in Brazil, where many Brazilians celebrate it by visiting cemeteries and churches, bringing flowers, lighting candles and praying."

 

TEACHER RESOURCES

 [F] Multicultural
Education Links

 [F] Youth Arts Education 

Paint for the Day of the Dead Kid's Studio by Lena Hyde for sfgate
Fiesta Time in The Barrio book review for younger readers

Classroom project Photos
Adrian Baumann East Whittier Middle School

DAY OF THE DEAD Books

   

TOURS & TRAVEL

 [F] Oaxaca & Dia de Los Muertos TOURS
 [F] Mexican Tours & Places to Stay 

 

 

Samhain & Halloween

 

Halloween was a Pagan festival until the Christian festival of All Saints' Day was moved from May 13 to November 1. .


San Francisco Halloween Photos


NY Village Halloween Parade

Samhain (the word for "November" in Irish) traditionally marked the end of the summer and the beginning of the harvest season.

Among Neopagans, it is a time often a time to honor the dead, and is celebrated on October 31/November 1 in the Northern Hemisphere. Wiccans consider it the most important of the the four "greater Sabbats." Samhain is considered by most Wiccans as a celebration of death and of the dead, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. In this regard, it is very similar to Day of the Dead. It can also be seen as the counterpoint to Beltane (May 1), a celebration of life and vitality.

In the Bay Area, Reclaiming celebrates Samhain annually with The Spiral Dance....

"We gather to remember and honor our ancestors, our Beloved Dead, and all those who have crossed over. As we mourn for those we love who have died this year, we also mourn the losses and pain suffered by the Earth, our Mother. Yet even as we grieve we also remember and honor the sacred cycle of life, death, rebirth and regeneration, celebrating the births of our children born this year, and our own vital connections to the Earth and each other, in which we ground our hope."

 

Starhawk: a San Francisco based writer, activist and witch at the forefront of ecofeminism.  She helped found, through classes, workshops, camps, and public rituals in earth-based spirituality, with the goal to "unify spirit and politics".   

Books by Starhawk on Amazon.com || Reclaiming: A tradition of witchcraft, uniting spirit & politics || Earth Activist Training: planting the seeds of change

"Reclaiming (formerly known as Reclaiming Collective) is an international community of women and men working to combine spirituality and political activism."

 

Mexico's Dia de las Muertos

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last link check 10/30/2006 || last update 10/31/2006