Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Día de los Muertos

 Día de los Muertos

It seems that every culture has a holiday to remember their deceased family members and friends. Mexican culture is no different.
 Día de los Muertos is an old tradition native to Mexico dating back 3,000+ years. It was a tradition held by native peoples even after years of eradication attempts by the Spanish. Just as tradition stays the same, it blends with modern culture and times. Although  Día de los Muertos has aligned with many aspects of Catholicism it maintains many of the Aztec traditions, specifically including skulls.

 Día de los Muertos is celebrated throughout the world. Having lived in different parts of the United States I always understood what the holiday was about but never until New Mexico did I fully grasp the mysticism and tradition bound within the tradition. Every place celebrates it differently. New Mexico is a very mystical place and their brand of celebration here is something I'm so happy I've been able to experience.
Some people might make trips to New Orleans for Mardi Gras but I will never be able to celebrate  Día de los Muertos in any other US state. I'll forever travel back to New Mexico or give it up entirely and visit Mexico.

While there are many aspects to  Día de los Muertos, too many to explain here (especially since I'm only as knowledgeable as an experiencer), my favorite part of this holiday is two fold. First, it is a very happy celebration. There is little mourning and much celebration and even more happy remembrance. Second, I love the colors of the calaveras. A calavera is a skeleton, or a skull (there are other related words, but I love this word). People will paint their faces black and white as if they were a skull. It sounds horrifying but their clothes are bright, happy, and uplifting. Marigold flowers are everywhere. I love this part. People will present sugar skulls to their dead relatives and friends (or even their living ones) at their graves or they will add them to a shrine in their home or at their loved one's favorite place.

 In Albuquerque, there is a month long event celebrating  Día de los Muertos. No celebration would be complete without a parade.  I missed the parade the first year I was here. This year I swore it would be the only thing I did. :)

Here are some tons of photos from Albuquerque's 2012 Marigold Parade.

"The dead can't vote but you can vote." This was right before the 2012 election.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Bosque: Forest

New Mexico is a desert. It's lovely. 

The Rio Grande runs through the middle of Albuquerque. The river these days is shrunken and probably not entitled to the name of river, let alone a grand river. Still, geographically the river has played an important role and the effects are easily visible.
One of the most beautiful parts of the Rio Grande is the Bosque. Bosque is a Spanish word meaning "woodlands." In the Southwest, a bosque is the collection of trees growing along a riparian flood plain. Usually the trees are cottonwoods. 
The Bosque provides an ever changing to an otherwise brown landscape.* In spring the trees bloom and unfurl at different paces, a wave of reawakening. In summer the bosque and its towering branches provide shade in the face of the hot 100 degree sun. In the fall, the trees look like they're on fire in the crisp blue sky; their arms reaching toward the fading sun.

All those adjectives. Barf. Still, they do nothing to capture the essence of the bosque.
The following pictures are from this past fall - forget the adjectives and see for yourself.

Cottonwoods in Fall


Reach for the sky


Make a wish
And a selfie for good measure.
My hair matches the colours.

*For the record: I don't think New Mexico is brown. There are amazing greens, purples, and blues here. I'd even argue it is one of the most colourful places I've ever been. There aren't tons of green trees covering up the other plants and their colors. 
Purple was once the color of royalty ("History, Shellfish, Royalty, and the Color Purple
Jul 1, 2002 12:00 PM, Dr. Richard M. Podhajny, Ph.D. Contributing Editor)
and I say New Mexico has enough shades of purple to make it the most royal place on earth.