Day of the Dead. "Is your family obsessed with death?" asked one visitor to our house, unfamiliar with the cultural celebration and seeing my collection of items from our travels in Mexico. We do pumpkins, mums and not much other Halloween decorating here in Santa Fe.
It is a new creep on Halloween, an old tradition to our south, inching north. It is a way to honor the souls departed, to remember that life and death are on the same continuum and it is next to All Saint's Day so it is a way of thinking about the good, the bad, the honorable and the ugly. All Souls. There is a good collection of Day of the Dead items at the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They also carry items in their gift shop.
Our culture sanitizes death or glorifies it with fictional Hollywood gore and horror, yet hides photos from our war dead. Latin America treats death as part of life, with acceptance and humor.
Sugar skulls, often with the names of recently departed, are given out and family altars honor and venerate the families' dead with photos.
Are these things creepy? Or more healthy? Boo, you spooks, tell me! Skeletal cheers.