El Día de los Muertos is not Halloween. It is not about trick-or-treating. It is not a celebration of death.
What it is, is a celebration of life.
It is a time to honor and remember the lives of those who have passed.
It is a time for friends, family and communities to gather and rejoice in life.
Muertos is just as much about color, brightness and laughter as it is about mourning, reflection and stillness.
Skulls and skeletons comprise much of the iconography surrounding Muertos, yet the darkness of their morbidity is juxtaposed by the sweetness of sugar from which they are made. The silence and sorrow that surrounds a funeral, is contrasted by the comparsas band, leading family and friends in a joyful dancing frenzy as they wake the sleeping spirits.
Candles illuminate tombstones and altars, covered in marigolds (the flower of death) and gifts of the dearly departed’s favorite beer, tequila, snack and sweet. Altars and sand “carpets” (tarpetas de arena) also pay homage to the symbiotic relationship that is shared with the earth, using naturally different colored tierra, sand, maiz, seeds, fruits and nuts to illustrate stories of pre-hispanic time and detail the cycle of life.
In Mexico, the word death is not taboo. It is a part of life and therefore cannot be removed or ignored. Irrespective of religious beliefs (and at times contradictory), death is not viewed as finite. El Día de los Muertos (which is actually more than one day), is a chance for the living to gather and visit with loved ones who have left this world. It doesn’t matter if the spirits – or whatever they may be called – actually come back to the world of the living— the significance, rather, is in the life of those that have passed, relived in the festivities of remembrance.
Lucky Luna’s final show this year, La Vida de los Muertos, is a photojournalistic journey through Oaxaca, Mexico with nearly 100 images taken during Day of the Dead in 2009 and 2010. Lucky Luna will also feature food and beverage specials October 31-Nov 2 in recognition of this holiday.
La Vida de los Muertos is dedicated to Lucia Ana Flores Cadena, Jesus Cadena, Herminia Cadena, Tommy Jenkins, Sandy Rademacher, Richard Belski and Daniel Schingeck.