The Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca

The Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca

The Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca

The Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca

Synopsis

"The Day of the Dead is the most important annual celebration in Oaxaca, Mexico. Combining textual information and photographic imagery, this book begins with a discussion of the people of Oaxaca, their way of life, and their way of looking at the world. It then takes the reader through the celebration from the preparations that can begin months in advance through to the private gatherings in the homes and finally to the cemetery where the villagers celebrate together - both the living and the dead." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The Aztec called the hummingbird the ‘Messenger of the Gods’ because this tiny bird seemed to exist in both the natural and the supernatural world at the same time. Its body was in our world while its wings, beating so fast as to be invisible, were in the other world. For most of the Mesoamerican peoples, including the Zapotee of central Oaxaca, there is a very fine line that separates the world of the living from the supernatural world where the dead live. On el diá de muertos (the Day of the Dead), that line dissolves and, for a time, there is only one world. At that time, November first and second, the dead return to their former homes on earth for a while to eat, to drink, to sing, to be entertained, and to visit with their loved ones. the dead return home as they have done for millennia and the living throw open their doors to them. the reunion is indeed joyous and is a time that is eagerly anticipated.

It is called the Day of the Dead but it is more like a ‘season’ of the dead. It begins in mid-October with a formal invitation issued by the living and continues until San Andreas Day (November 30) when, it is said, San Andreas closes the gates of Heaven after all of the souls have returned. However, most of the activity centers on the first two days of November, the Spanish Catholic All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, but there is little of the Spanish influence to be found in the Oaxacan Day of the Dead. the Spanish version, which is bleak and dismal, requires one to go to the cemetery to pray and to mourn once again for lost loved ones. For the

1. Lechuga 2002.

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