and I lived in the United States we celebrated Halloween, if we were not catering a party, by dressing up in costumes and passing out candy to trick or treaters. It was fun seeing the kids dressed up. But that holiday lacks deeper meaning. Even graveyard tours are meant to spook people and make them think, “Thank goodness, I’m not dead yet. I’ll just have a bit of fun with death tonight.” But there’s a deeper ritual to addressing those who have passed.
November 2 is a cherished holiday in Mexico and celebrates people’s lives although it’s called “The Day of the Dead.” Shrines, created for the dead, are decorated with flowers, candles, fruit, food, drinks, sugar skulls and photos of departed relatives and ancestors.
The holiday gives people a chance to reflect on those who have come before and what they have left behind as their legacy.
The holiday gives people a chance to reflect on those who have come before and what they have left behind as their legacy. Max and I recently went to a concert featuring Mozart’s music. In a museum, we enjoyed paintings and sculptures crafted centuries ago. We have antiques in our home made by people who died years and even centuries ago whose names have long been forgotten.
Beautiful objects, stories, pieces of music keep the people who created them alive forever. Their earthly shells may be gone and their names forgotten but did these people really die if their work lives on?
Each action every day does not have to be monumental. You don’t have to build bridges or design museums to add goodness to the world. If you are an artist, you can make art, the best you are able. If you are a doll maker, make a terrific doll. If you are a parent teach your children kindness, generosity, patience, love. If you are a doorman, be friendly and welcoming.
Max makes the loveliest hors d’oeuvres from simple vegetables. They make people smile and feel better and bring a moment of real pleasure to the palate. They are temporary but that does not make them any less important.
Whatever a person gives in their life that is thoughtful, caring and generous will bring good energy into the world rather than causing pain. A person creates their own life with every moment and the choice is always theirs. Sometimes people think that if they have always lived their lives in a certain way, it’s too late to change. But each moment is fresh. It’s never too late to start over, to turn over a new leaf, to break from old habits that are painful to the self and to others.
For me, the Day of the Dead is about honoring those souls in my life who have made me a better person. Thinking about it like this, I would like to call November 2, not “The Day of the Dead,” but the “Day of the Living.”
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