Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dia de los Muertos

I HAD to post LOTS of pictures for this one--there are too many amazing images!! Yesterday was "Dia del los Muertos," Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead is a Mexican celebration that honors family and loved ones who have gone to the other side. If the skeletons seem gruesome, just remember that the it is only a representation of death, not something considered scary. It is very distinct from the Halloween celebration.

We went to Olvera St. to celebrate. How blessed we are to live near such a wonderful place. We literally spent the WHOLE day there, there was so much to do! We started by joining with the school groups to do a collage/mosaic art activity decorating skulls with seeds, colored rice and flowers. I thought they came out great! We then went to the plaza to take part in the pinata, (the girls collected candy,) look at the altars, and then the girls got their faces painted like skulls.

We then wandered a bit looking in some of our favorite shops. I got a great Olvera Street curriculum book that I'm so excited to use! By the time we got to the end of the street, we discovered that there were artists painting faces more intricately and Bella begged to have their faces painted again even though the line was long. I decided to do it which took over an hour!! Each of the girls were painted by three different artists. Olivia's was really quick, Bella's was more dedicated and Ceci's even more dedicated!! They all looked awesome, although Bella's was definitely the winner. I thought Ceci looked adorable, but a little reminiscent of Peter Criss from KISS, no? :) But they all looked awesome!! At this point, I found out Craig would not be joining us as we had originally planned. He had a touch of the stomach flu and just wasn't up to it. BUMMER! He would have loved being with us and we really missed him.

So we decided to get some dinner-- we got some yummy bean and cheese burritos from Cielito Lindo. Then we went to get some ice cream and went to enjoy it back in the plaza where an Ecuadorian man was playing the pan flute. On our walk to the plaza, many people asked if they could take pictures of the girls-- I guess they looked pretty good! Then at the plaza, the girls got their pictures taken like a million times by some sweet people visiting from China! I was able to ask them to take one of me with the girls. Several of them put Ceci on their lap for a picture and she was a really good sport about it. They were very sweet people.

Soon it was time for the Folklorico dancers to perform. We were lucky, we had a perfect spot right in the front. THEY WERE FANTASTIC!! My camera couldn't possibly capture how amazing these dancers were. They looked soooooo good. They did many dances, and ended with one I danced as a child, the Mexican Hat Dance. I almost got choked up, remembering my childhood and hearing the beautiful music. They looked so awesome in their big skirts and their skeleton costumes. What an absolute treat they were to see!!

Right after their performance, it was time for the Dia de los Muertos procession. I love the procession!! It is a parade of performers, honoring the dead. It starts with a group of Aztecs-- one begins the procession by blowing a conch shell, then a band follows playing some traditional music, then various representations of priests, altar boys, a bride and groom and more follow. It has a representation of "La Llorona" which is a woman from a very famous folktale of Mexico who has lost her children. (She's the one with the crazy hair.) The performers go down and up the street and then perform in the plaza. It was sooooo crowded! We were in a really good spot though. At the end, they give out champurrado and pan dulce. But the line was toooooo long to wait in. I got some pan dulce on the way home and we ate some at home! :) We had sooooooooo much fun!!

I have to add that I'm SUPER PROUD of Olivia. Last year, she was very unfortunately traumatized by "La Llorona" because he ( a male plays her) screamed in her face. He is supposed to wander around saying "Donde estan mis ninos?" but for some reason he decided to scream in the face of a five -year-old. We were very disappointed (and angry) about it and so this year, we talked about it with one of the main people in charge of the festivities and then they talked to the performer. We decided to help Olivia face her fear and watch it again. I also promised to buy her something from one of the stands if she was brave. So she was strong and watched it this year. La Llorona was much more mellow this time. Olivia hid her face in me for much of it, but she stayed and now says she's not afraid of him. And she was so happy to be able to choose a toy!

And here's the altar we put together this year-- we put my mom, and both sets of my grandparents. We need a picture of Craig's dad. I guess last year's altar was better!? We'll do more next time.


chiggyz said...

This face painting is amazing!!!!!

Brenda said...

Crazy Suzy!!!! What has happened to you? The girl who would never be anything but a beautiful Princess for Halloween? Last year witches! And this year Skulls painted on your daughters' faces?!?!?!?! When you told me about the face painting I had envisioned flowers and butterflies! HAH HA!