Much of the folk art seen during this time of year, originated as offerings to the souls of the departed when placed on altars and grave markers. However, during the 19th century, Jose Guadalupe Posada used skeletons to satirize Mexican society in editorial cartoons. One example, catrina was an upper class lady of the turn-of-the-century and was always depicted in her broad-brimmed hat. Works such as these inspired many folk artists to continue the tradition of creating whimsical pieces to make light of the inevitable, and catrina is now a classic figure in Mexican folk art.
Again, depending on the part of Mexico you are in, the Day of the Dead is celebrated in varying ways. It can be an important cultural event in some communities, while it may be a more focused religious observance with actual worship of the dead in other communities. In larger cities, it may be a Mexican holiday simply observed through social gatherings with special foods and music. In the United States, many larger cities are holding observances of their own to celebrate this unique day as well.
The meals are extensive and prepared during the days leading up to the celebration. Variations abound depending on the region of Mexico and the preferences of the departed. Tamales, empanadas, mole and a special bread known as pan de muerto are common dishes. Cookies and candies in the shape of skulls and skeletons are also typical. Offerings of salt and water are included as well. They are believed to be symbols of continuing life.
first two days of November, rather than at the beginning of summer.
Generally speaking, activities on this day may include adorning the graves of departed family members with marigolds, picnicking at the gravesite, singing and dancing with community members, and sharing memories of loved ones. Many believe that the souls of the dead return during the festivities.
The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts is a grass-roots project that provides the Huichol people with an interface to the outside world. Concern has become ever greater as some Huichol people are migrating away from their unique way of life in the mountains, and into the cities due to economic pressures. The Huichol Center is helping to transform poverty into dignity through programs which reinforce pride in their cultural heritage. Language and cultural preservation, education, nutrition, and self-sufficiency are the earmarks of their mission.
The Huichol beliefs are complex and elaborate, involving myth, shamanism, ritual peyote, prayer and ceremony. Much of their current art depicts these religious themes and retells mystical stories. So each piece of art, in addition to being a beautiful work of art, carries its own historical and spiritual significance.
The Huichol are a highly creative people and reflect their strong ceremonial traditions and rich mythology in their visionary art work. These visions are often inspired by their peyote god whose divine gift enables them to communicate with all the gods. These mystical experiences can only be told by the shamans, but all are encouraged to express them in their art and offerings. Through their artwork, whether it be beaded art (chaquira) or yarn painting (nierika), the Huichol encode and document their spiritual knowledge.
The Huichol Indian tribe sees dress as another important way of expressing their religious beliefs. Their colorful clothing is said to give pleasure to their divinities, ensuring the kindness of the deities and protection of the people. The Huichol men wear elaborately embroidered muslin pants, a long tunic that is wrapped around the waist and held in place by a hand-woven belt, and a kerchief which may be embroidered or can be made from a combination of embroidery and felt. Hand-woven and embroidered bags are often worn, and during ceremonies a large hat with feathers may be worn as well. Huichol women typically wear delicately embroidered peasant dresses.