Day of the Dead

Saludos—greetings—from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where preparations are excitedly underway for Dia de los Muertos—Day of the Dead—in which the many of the local people remember and honor their deceased loved ones.

Though it may sound somber or macabre, it’s not!

The view from my room in the hacienda where I’m staying

Between Oct 31 and Nov 2 it’s a festivo—festive holiday—with eye-popping, colores vivos—vivid colors—everywhere to welcome departed loved ones, believing that their espíritu—spirits—return to earth for a single day each year to spend time with familia—family.

Day of the Dead is celebrado—celebrated—differently all over the world. In Mexico many of the cemetery lápidas—headstones—have elaborate decorations because it’s thought that the spirits stop there first on their way home. The casas—homes—have intricately decorated ofrendas—altars—to welcome departed loved ones.

Stairwell in hacienda – my room’s at the top

It’s believed that the spirits of bebés y niños—babies and children—arrive at midnight on Oct 31 to spend a full day with their families then leave, and the spirits of adultos—adults—arrive the following day.

Bedroom Ceiling in Hacienda by Laurie Buchanan

¿Alguna vez se celebra el día de los muertos
Have you ever celebrated Day of the Dead?

Escuchar con el corazónlisten with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

“Lo que no va a cambiar, está eligiendo.”
Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

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© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved

48 thoughts on “Day of the Dead

    • Carl – I’ll be touring the beautiful town over the next week. I’ve seen some lovely items in the shop windows and by street vendors as the taxi goes whipping by at break-neck speed 🙂

  1. Love al the Spanish words you threw in and I’m surprised I knew most of them. Must be because so much of the French language and Spanish are similar, not that my French is all that great either. I just know it better than Spanish. Hope you enjoy all the festivities of los dia de los muertos, while you’re visiting the beautiful countryside. 🙂

  2. I spent time in Mexico City as an exchange student during high school. Wow, what an experience! I love día de los muertos and the whole attitude people of Mexico have regarding celebrating life. I firmly believe our departed loved ones are no longer in a physical body that we can see, but they are definitely not gone. Their spirits visit us a lot more frequently than once a year, whether or not we are aware of it and accept the help and understanding they offer.
    Don’t you just love the architecture there? Feel free to share as many pictures as possible!
    🙂 Karin

  3. Pingback: Day of the Dead « Karinconway's Blog

  4. Hi, Laurie — on the Day after the Frankenstorm, I get to work from home and have the good luck to be able to take a break and get to read Speaking from the Heart on the day you actually publish it (instead of the week after). I remember the Day of the Dead from my years in Texas. At Catholic mass, we would have a special celebration for All Souls’ Day. It was not quite as festive as the Mexican Day of the Dead though. We were rather somber and melodramatic. I prefer decorating headstones, lively music, and spiked punch. Have a blast in Mexico!

    • Barbara – We did a circle today where we each called out the name(s) of people we know who may be in harm’s way of the storm. I called out yours, Sam Juliano, and Marilyn Allen. I’m so glad to know that you’re alive and well 🙂

  5. Laurie, not in recent years but in El Paso as a child, much was made of it, especially with the Halloween connection. I am enjoying the beautiful photos you are posting, especially the one with the plants on the patio. Wow! Gorgeous! Have some tamales for me, they are my favorite!

  6. Our community has always celebrated the Day of the Dead and with lots of flowers and color and pictures of our loved ones – departed. We follow up on the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashana and use it as a time of cleansing and seeing our fears and worries – letting them go – release. Lots of fasting and meditations going on and then we support each other on our personal journeys to strengthen our faith. I just made a reading list as a gift for 2 members of our community whose mother’s are dying.
    In the USA there are more deaths this time of year than another time of the year – many feel freer about letting go –

    I used to get out of school on November 1st for All Saints/Soul’s Day and we would spend the morning at our church – it seemed to make Halloween all the more special as we were releasing fears and opening up to being fully people…

    The pictures you share are just gorgeous – I hope it is a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing

  7. Yes, I have celebrated the Day of the Dead–All Saints Day. It made me sad to assume that the deceased are scary, evil, in agony when the veil between life and death rises. I feel the presence of my–6 years since he passed–husband every day, but even more on the day set aside to visit with him.

    • Genevieve – I’m so glad that you feel your husband’s presence. I feel the presence of my mother all the time. And like you, I don’t believe for a moment that their spirits are scary or evil. Thank you for leaving a comment, I appreciate it.

  8. Mortality is something we would all do better thinking about regularly. Not in a macabre sense, but to give our actions and relationships so much more perspective. For example, “stuff” – you can’t take it with you. Or legacy – what do we really want to leave behind us? Or priorities – what do we really want to do with our lives? Remembering our dead loved ones helps us remember them and also remember all these things.

  9. I have not celebrated Day of the Dead, but my daughter always does in her class at school. Your hacienda is beautiful, what a wonderful view! Looking forward to a bunch of pictures of the beauty around you.

  10. Ola! That’s all the Spanish I know (except for the words in your post!) 🙂 What a lovely casa to be staying in! I am so not a fan of our U.S. Halloween but I could definitely see the traditions elsewhere. Yet somehow I’d like to think we can welcome the spirits any time, without such fuss, just as we should celebrate Thanksgiving EVERY day, not just the silly one-day-holiday. Guess if I ruled the world, I’d make a few changes! haha

  11. I have never had the chance to celebrate the day of the dead as it is in Mexico but I have always read about it with fascination. The North American Halloween has never been a favourite event of mine. I dislike horror movies and being scared. My favourite part are the little wee children who are dressed up and carving pumpkins. That I like 🙂 Hope your retreat is going well Laurie and that you come back with some stories to tell.

  12. What a wonderful celebration. This must allow many to ‘openly’ remember and rejoice their loved ones lives in such a healthy way. To grieve and remember; so heartfelt…
    Thank You, Laurie, for this post..
    🙂 Carolyn

  13. I am much more fond of the Day of the Dead celebration than Halloween. It seems like such a wonderful opportunity to honor our ancestors and friends who have passed away. This feels like a culture that keeps the dearly departed close to their hearts and lives. I like how it’s interwoven…and how you shared it here! Hope you are having a splendiforous time! (I know you are.)

  14. Wow, the “Day of the Dead” is a most fascinating occasion, and I expect that all is going well on your wonderful trip Laurie! I am eager to compare notes, and expect there will be a marked contrast if you know what I mean! Lovely photos there, and would have loved to transport my family there a week ago! Ha!

    • Sam – I can’t even begin to imagine the awful ramifications that you and yours have suffered in the wake of the storm. My internet connection has been somewhat iffy. I trust that you and yours are well. I just saw the note that you’re father is okay – I’m so grateful.

  15. Those colors surrounding you there in the gardens and the buildings are indeed vivid and cheerful! I had no idea that celebrating the Day of the Dead was so festive – I’ve visited some of my ancestors’ graves on that day, but never thought before to make it such a joyful occasion.

  16. I was always afraid of this holiday because the title of it sounded scary hehe. Once I got older and my family explained it I understood what it was. My family said that back in Mexico many people go to the cemetery(at night) and bring food and spend time with their loved ones. Like a dinner feast!

    • Any Lucky Penny – Yes, I agree with you that the name – Day of the Dead — sounds very off putting. In reality, it’s the wonderful celebration you’ve described, with family and friends of the deceased gathered around the grave site enjoying a meal (or more), tons of brightly colored flowers, and in many cases, mariachi bands playing lively music 🙂

  17. We have always celebrated the Day of the Dead here in Estonia. We celebrate it by decorating the cemetary’s with lots of candles and by burning candles in our homes and just remembering our loved ones who have passed away. Cemetary’s are like magic worlds during this day, with all those candles burning brightly. It’s usually also snowing by the Day of the Dead in Estonia, so the snow adds also the winter wonderland feeling. It is a great tradition. 🙂

  18. I haven’t personally celebrated Day of the Dead before, but it sounds like an incredible experience to be there when the festivities rev up! Your photos are beautiful, Laurie.

    • Dana – The Day of the Dead festivities are so different from how Americans and Canadians respond to death. Rather than grievous, it’s amazingly colorful, musical, joyous — festive. A celebration of one’s life — understanding full well that death is part of life.

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