Oh, it is Friday Night. A lot of people go out and “do things” on Friday nights. Especially if they work the 9 to 5 from Monday to Friday. I think it becomes an “end of work-week celebration” of sorts.
People go out to dinner, or out to bars. Some see movies. Others just enjoy staying put, and enjoying the art of being at home.
Tonight, we did none of the above. Tonight we painted Sugar Skull Mugs. The Event was and “Unwind & Create” at the Preble County Arts Center. Typically, we do paintings at these things. But tonight involved our artistic musings with the a creepy ceramic.
It was a great deal of fun, as well as a pretty decent challenge.
And little did we know…. the reason why… perhaps.
It is all because of Día de los Muertos. Or in English, Day of the Dead. You see, this is an interesting holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico.
They recognized these very sacred days on November 1 & 2. These Days of the Dead.
This coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day. The indigenous people of the south…. have combined this Catholic date… with their own ancient beliefs. It is a time of honoring their deceased loved ones.
And here is what they believe. The gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31. Once those gates swing open…. the spirits of all deceased children ( which are called angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. Yep, that’s it.
You’d think once those gates swung open, there would be a longer hall pass. But 24 hours is it.
On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. Altars are made in each home. They are decorated with candles, and these really big buckets of flowers (wild marigolds & bright red cock’s combs).
And it is a party, I’ll tell you. There are mounds of fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto.
They have to have a lot of food on the altar. Soda, hot cocoa, treats and such. This is all to feed the weary spirits. Toys and candies are left for the angelitos, and on Nov. 2, cigarettes and shots of mezcal are offered to the adult spirits.
Now that part cracks me up. Apparently, there are no cigarettes or shots of tequila in heaven.
But here is the coolio part of the whole deal. Little folk art skeletons and sugar skulls, provide the final touches on the whole big shebang.
Sugar Art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. And Mexico has an abundant supply of sugar. They produce it like crazy. But the Mexicans were too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations. So… they learned quickly, from the friars, how to make sugar art for their religious festivals.
And that is when the Sugar Skulls were born. Sugar skulls represented a departed soul. They are decorated with bright colors and all sorts of whip-digits. And just to be certain, they had the name of the dead relative written on the forehead. Of course, to honor the dead person.
Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, with colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments.
And tonight, we fabricated ceramic mugs to mimic this incredible tradition. I am not sure anyone really knew this while they were painting. No one wrote any dead person’s name on the foreheads of their designs.
But, the whole lot of us had fun. We celebrated. And we painted. And we shared time together.
And that is a fine tradition to have…. in itself. For a Friday Night.
Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity. — Henri Nouwen
I love any and all situations where you celebrate creativity. — Brad Paisley