Feliz Día de los Muertos!
I’ve never been a Halloween kind of girl &, until I saw Disney Pixar’s Coco last year, I had never been a Day of the Dead girl either – I naively thought sugar skulls were just a kawaii way of prettying up Halloween for those of us who aren’t about sexy/zombie (delete as applicable!) versions of well known characters.
To say a Disney film changed my life is ridiculously shameful but Coco absolutely changed how I see death.
I first watched it at a time I was on long term sick from work with depression & my family “trigger” to spot when I’m on my downward spiral is when I start spontaneous crying over the idea of out living my precious dog, Betsy, & having to carry on after she dies, so a film about one boy & his dog already got me right in the feels before I’d even pressed play!
Once I’d dried my oh so many tears, I Googled the bejesus out of this heartwarming festival & fell in love. Who knew celebrating death could be so beautiful, colourful, cultural, spirit lifting?
As it turns out, sugar skulls are more than just a cutesy take on Halloween but a key part of the whole Mexican Day of the Dead festival that is nothing at all to do with Halloween.
Starting on 1st November to celebrate the souls of deceased children & continuing through 2nd November for passed adults, Día de los Muertos is not a festival of ghosts & ghouls nor is it dedicated time to mourn. This time is to commemorate our dearly departed & reminisce over the lives that once were.
Just like on Coco, families create an alter at home full of cherished photographs, personal items, favourite foods in homage to passed loved ones to welcome their everlong spirits home for a day while supporting their spiritual journey on the other side.
People decorate graves with bright, happy florals & foliage like Aztec marigolds, showering their final resting place with personal gifts & even sharing a meal with lost loves because will always be part of our lives.
And the sugar skulls? The stunning “calaveras” are painted to mock death, to show death we’re not afraid of our lives ending & we embrace it as part of the human life cycle, allowing us to be one with our deceased friends & family for this holiday.
This is such an utterly beautiful holiday that completely changed how I see death; when the inevitable does happen & I lose my pugglebum, she will still always be a part of my life & will doesn’t have to be physically in this realm with me for me to celebrate her life & legacy. No YOU have thought too much about dead pets!
Through Día de los Muertos, those glorious sugar skulls & the most heartbreakingly heartwarming Disney film I will ever see, I have learnt that it’s ok to shed a few tears & that losing a loved one to the other side isn’t a reason to mourn but to remember.
If ever you feel alone – or even if you simply want to learn more about this festival of death & the Mexican culture – I urge you to watch Coco.
Feliz Día de los Muertos, my friends. Happy Day of the Dead.
Dani | Mrs Crater x