Good heavens. Humans will argue about anything, won’t we?
Over on the BookFace, there is a tempest in a teacup about the Day of the Dead. Thanks to an influx of immigrants across the southern US border, Dias de los Muertos has become very popular in fairly mainstream American culture. We all love sugar skulls and Ancestor altars, and those cool dancing and dressed-up skeletons are too much fun.
It isn’t so much cultural appropriation as it is falling in love with someone else’s holiday–like Gentiles who can’t resist Passover or Jews who put up a tree in December.
But there’s a backlash now explaining that the Day of the Dead celebration is not the same as Hallowe’en, you silly USians. There is even a rude graphic showing a thin Dia skeleton-girl kicking a chubby stereotype Witch in her ample behind.
No need for that, surely?
But the explanations I keep reading have finally made me laugh out loud. What we Euro-Amers don’t understand, apparently, is that the Day of the Dead comes from the amalgamation of ancient indigenous celebrations of the Beloved Dead with the traditions of the Catholic Church around All Saints and All Souls Days. Which is where Hallowe’en (All Hallows’ Eve) comes from.
And those celebrations came from the Catholic church utilizing the ancient celebrations of indigenous European tribes before Their Catholic Majesties laid claim to parts of the so-called New World. So, really the Day of the Dead also has ancient European roots to go with its ancient MesoAmerican ones.
Then what are we fighting over? The difference between sugar skulls and carved turnips? Between a celebration that begins at the end of October and another that s begins at the start of November? The point should be, in my opinion, that the Catholic Church was brilliant at using indigenous peoples’ celebrations against them, in order to get both converts and territory. Something else they learned from the Roman Empire, I reckon. Except the converts part. The old Empire wasn’t much about that.
If no one minds, I’ll simply put some marigolds (see above) on my Ancestor altar and let it suffice for all of the above. I can’t imagine that the Dead (or the Divines) give a fig about who is honoring them, as long as we bring love, respect and the appropriate beer.