Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day of the Dead 2007

Pocha's 2007 Altar

As a child, Halloween was always one of my faaavorite holidays -- then I discovered "Day of the Dead" while at college and embraced it. I was overjoyed that there existed a tradition where I could "visit" with my dead ancestors, celebrate life and put forth postive intention for the coming year. It was like Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year all rolled into one -- eerily comforting, centering and enlightening!

A cigarette, tea and coffee for our Muertitos

I grew up watching my maternal grandmother pull out her rosary every Monday and sit down before her home-made altar, always filled with fresh flowers, fading photos and religious icons. I would hear her speaking in quiet Aymara, her speech puctuated by familiar grandfather, aunts and uncles. She would even call upon my father's family and ask that they watch over me. I asked her why she would do this and she said it was a Bolivian tradition to remember and honor your dead on Mondays.

Day of the Dead bread

One year I made my dad drive all over Tijuana searching for Day of the Dead bread only to be greated by amused and patronizing comments about how these superstitions were only practiced by indians in the countryside. That was over two decades ago! Now Day of the Dead is a chic and popular annual event. I even wrote about it for Tu Cuidad magazine.

Victor Payan Sr. - R.I.P

It's been fun over the years to use this day to reconnect with the memories of those who have passed on. I set up their photos (or in this year of moving out of state, their names written on paper), flowers and offerings -- tell them all about my year and what I hope to achieve in the next one. I play music for them, brew them coffee and scatter marigold petals to guide their way. Since I'm a newlywed, this was the first year I included images from my husband's family. His dead are now my dead.

Lanterns made by San Anto students and staff

This was also the first Day of the Dead we celebrated with the San Antonio Arts Community, where we participated in San Anto's annual procession. "El Dia de Los Muertos" is now a poetic tradition in the heart of the Westside.

SA's most glamorous muertos

Of course, altars these days aren't limited to family anymore. It's typical to see heros and rock stars illuminated in the night.

Joe Strummer - R.I.P.

Our video students even screened a sweet version of our delightful autumn short "Trick or Tweet" for the occasion.

Still from "Trick or Tweet"

Its a story about a witchy mom and what she does to her daughter's boyfriends. Southern Gothic at its best, and made with a crew of four 15 year olds, two instructors and a parent! Check it out below and have a happy Day of the Dead!

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