Day of the Dead, burnout or ...

This year I'm feeling a lil burned out on the whole Day of the Dead thing.
This year I have also been witness to a couple of friends who lost family this year and all they went through including rosaries every Sunday, the few visits a week to the cemetary, the no parties- no drinking promises, the wearing of black clothes. This made grief, loss, and remembering the dead come into a new focus for me.

Last year I began to look DoD celebrations as mostly a day for local artists to sell stuff with calaveras. The year before a compa~era pulled out a 'Day of the Dead: In a Box' novelty gift she found online. It was designed by two non- Chicanas and all the pieces including tiny skulls, altar, serapes and such were made in China.

I was not raised with a lot death around me. The deaths in my family were not too close and my immediate family was never about all the rituals many other families do when death visits a loved one. We mourn, bury, miss, remember and then forget in a sense.

DoD was cool when I first started going to them at the beginning of the 1990's. I saw it as a big middle finger to Catholicism and the Western views of death. We Chicano/as were bringing up one of our ancient rituals to show everyone (including ourselves) just how complex and deep we are. I liked going to see the altars that some of the artists I read about and some that I knew would design with such detail and care.

When I finally saw what greiving and mourning looked like in a more real way, I began to question what these DoD were really about. Were they just another excuse for a party? Ain't nothing wrong with that, we need to come together and clebrate any chance we get. Were they just a chance for artists to make a lot of money selling kitschy art that wouldn't normally sell? Nothing wrong with that, artists need to make money. Yet I am feeling burned on it. I do think the soul of coming together to share, create, and grow together around an ancient system of beliefs is fading away and being replaced more with trinket collecting and sales.

I take my daughter EVERY year to DoD at SHG. This year will be no different. But this year we might just add a trip to the cemetary to see grandma before we go to SHG.


cindylu said...

I've never had the chance to really get overwhelmed or burned out by Día de los Muertos mainly because I hardly have a chance to do anything for it each year because it's always a hectic time to the quarter.

Anonymous said...

I had a conversation with my creative roomate that always participates at DOD at SGH, to get her thoughts on your blog. She had a great response. I told her she should write you a comment.... I will motivate her to do that. I don't want to relay it, b/c she said it so beautifully... -yr

EL CHAVO! said...

The way it's celebrated here is a bit too spectacular, more about the imagery and artwork than the concept of remembrance and celebration. One thing that I find odd is how Chicanos try to become Super Mexicans in their interpretations, somehow trying to capture the traditions of their forefathers rather than just try and create their own.

Great post, I especially liked your closing paragraph.

EL CHAVO! said...

Just saw this link: http://creepyla.com/blog/2007/11/05/dia-de-los-muertos-¡erotica-opens/

A Chinito From LH said...

The Day of the Dead. Every culture celebrates it. It is not something we understand nor appreciate when we're young. I believe, as we mature in our adult life we're able to better relate and understand the reason behind the DoD.

Btw, I randomly found yours and "el chavo" blogs of Lincoln Hts. They're very amusing and nostalgic. :) Keep up the good blog..