Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dia de los Muertos (Click on pictures for full-sized fun!)

I'm a big fan of Dia de los Muertos. I think it is a beautiful and madly intriguing holiday. Let's Celebrate the Dead, yippee! Hooray - I'm Alive Still! All the skeleton art really makes my heart skip happy beats. I think Latin cultures in general have a personal relationship with their dead so I have no problem celebrating Day of the Dead whole heartedly with mis hermanos mexicanos.

Every year, I take the girls to my favorite museum in Orange County, the Bowers Museum, for the Dia de los Muertos celebration. I have been to many museums in my life and spent odd sections of my childhood wandering them alone for hours as my mother took a class or worked, and I can safely call the Bowers one of my favorite museums of all time. It's an old converted mission that has dedicated itself specifically to internationally-cultural exhibits. The museum is tiny and intimate. While some museums seem to slap you in the face with their art, the Bowers cradles and cares for the art, offers it and does this nod to vistors saying, "Huh? Look at that. Isn't that fantastic?" I discovered the Bowers a few years ago when they were about to set up an outstanding exhibit on Tibetan Buddhist art. When the exhibit opened, I walked onto the spanish pavers surrounded by butter-colored walls and before I saw one tanka, I stared at a huge sheet that hung from the ceiling used to display a film of monks blowing temple horns. I just stood there hypnotized by the mono-syllabic droning. I thought, THIS MUSEUM IS THE SHIT.

Though I fell in love with the inside, one of my favorite aspects of the Bowers is that it looks every bit of a mission still. And every single time we go, which is often, there is always a quinceanera going on when we arrive and a wedding going on when we leave. The parties are always splayed out on the gorgeous lawns taking pictures. I love spying on their moment.

This was the quinceanera going on today when we arrived for the Dia de los Muertos celebration. I took the first picture because her dress was not only crazy fairy-tale, but it was cotton-candy pink and it was so campy that I wanted to run up and hug her ringlet head. But after I took the first picture, the entire party looked my way like I was violating her, like if I took another picture I would've given all the cousins and sisters and uncles permission to come kick my ass. So, I snuck this second picture from behind the mission walls.

On with Dia del los Muertos! I met my good friend Lisa and her handsome son Louis at the museum, and we spilled a little hot chocolate on the curb for our dead familia. Then we got our arts and crafts on.

First we got skeleton fingers painted on ourselves.

Then we decorated calaveras or sugar skulls. Here's Mina's.

Then we made calavera masks. Here's Louis and mask.

Then we made these killer puppets attached to a toilet paper roll and a stick:

Then the paper art. Here is Lisa's because she is an expert.

Then the Azteca dancers came out and got their grove on, for the dead.

My girl got a muertos french pedi for the occasion.

Check out Maya's buddy.

Louis pooped out. The drumming put him asleep.

And a few more pictures of the huge altar that graced the middle of the room.

The nun picture slays me.


la vie en rose said...

this looks so fascinating. as far as i know we don't have anything like that around here. of course i live in the bible belt so unless jesus is directly involved people throw a fit about it.

kiki said...

i'm not latin american but i love the dia de los muertos celebration also. great series of pictures.

madness rivera said...

Since the day of dead originated from the Aztec culture, I'm pretty sure the bible belt would consider this pagan, if simply because of the talking skeletons and the casualness about death. This comes from the root belief – like that of most indigenous religions -- that death is a natural cycle of life. But DotD is mostly about remembering and honoring family and celebrating our own lives; seizing each day, really. And Jesus is always on the altar somewhere!

But this is what I really like about you La Vie, you are open and nonjudgmental to new things even if those that surround you might advise otherwise. I notice this openness in all your posts around blogworld. It's a great quality.

acumamakiki said...

I love day of the dead and especially all the skeleton art ~ I think it must be my Cali roots.

wendy said...

I love dia de los muertos. I love the sketeton painting on the hands. It is so beautiful the honoring of the dead. Instead of being scared of death. What a great thing to teach your children!!

Mama said...

What a cool day! ~mama

kath red said...

wow, what amazing costumes and masks, how wonderful

Marigoldie said...

Bravo! Great photodocumentary. Like la vie, I hardly knew a thing about the Day of the Dead until I was an adult, but oh how I love it. I'd like to go to a celebration like this someday.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous! What fun! I love all the pics especially the one behind the bushes. So random and wierd. You're girls are so lucky you take them on such great adventures! xoxo- M

madness rivera said...

I had to get the dress! Without catching a family-style beat down.

Since I didn't have a quinceanera, I'm so gonna have one on my 40th birthday and call it my cuarentanera.

Lynne said...

i once read that you can tell a lot about a culture by their attitude toward death. i've found this to be quite true.
i have a dia de los muertos party with my class every year. a few parents think i rock while most others go, "ewwww! creepy!"
doin' my part, one kid at a time.
(Oh! i recently acquired sugar skull molds for next year!"