I found this essay on line ( couldn't find the authors name ) and decided to print the parts I thought would be helpful in preparing for Baba's Soul Day (comments in italics are mine). I'm going to work with a planning diary because I do this every year, but I've never written it down. So as we move towards the Day of the Dead I'll share my journey here..
The Day Of The Dead
The Day of the Dead is one of Mexico's traditional holidays reuniting and honoring beloved ancestors, family, and friends.
Life was seen as a dream. It was believed that only in dying, a human being was truly awake. Death was not a mysterious and fearful presence but a realistic recognizable character as much a part of life as life itself. When Christianity was introduced in the 16th century, religion and its symbols became part of the altars we now find in Mexico today.
Traditionally, it is a time when family members share memorable stories that would commemorate their lives together. Secondly, there are many items that people do to celebrate the Day of the Dead. On November 2, family members clean and perhaps paint the headstones, arrange flowers, and lighting candles. I also leave a small offering of food and perhaps liquor behind the living room door because I was taught as a child that's where the ghosts. hide I also leave candles in all my windows to make it easy for my departed ancestors to find their way home
Mexican families construct special home altars dedicated to the spirits of their deceased loved ones. The altars range from simple to the very elaborate and are usually filled with objects that provided pleasure to the departed person in life, including favorite food and drink. Altars dedicated to the spirits of deceased children often include toys, candy and other sweets. Pretty neat, I put this here because its so festive looking
. A start, maybe I'd dedicate an altar like this one to the unique people in my life who are no longer here. I'd go on to put things connected to them and of course I'd add the sweets and food! And as an FYI people have dedicated altars to pets.
The altars or ofrendas as they are called, also usually contain objects made from sugar or sugar sculpture known as alfenique. These objects may be small animals, such as lambs, miniature plates of food (enchiladas with mole), small coffins, often with pop-up skeletons, and of course, the sugar skull or calavera. The skulls are made by pouring a mixture of boiling water, confectioner's sugar and lime into clay molds, which have been previously soaked in water. The calaveras are decorated with paper foil for eyes and a kind of colored icing for hair. Names can be added to the skull and Mexican children often exchange named skulls with their friends.
Ofrendas often include papel picado or Mexican cut-paper.
Papel picado has a long folk tradition in Mexico and the little town of San Salvador Huixcolotla, in the state of Puebla, is known for its fine cut paper. Although papel picado is used as a decoration for many festive occasions such as weddings and baptisms, papel picado with themes relating to Day of the Dead is also very popular. The Mexican papel picado is similar to origami. Although origami is folded, it too has spiritual meaning. So if you choose to create an altar and use Origami...then go for it, if you want to dedicate one to a beloved pet or lost friends, you should. If you want to be tradtional and remember lost children and relatives then do it with joy and love and from your heart. Remember this is a holiday to reunite with your loved ones, make it a good day for all of you.