ROSARY WORKSHOP - HALLOWEEN CELEBRATIONS
de los MUERTO*
of the DEAD)
HALLOWE'EN DISCOVERY TRIP TO MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
you ever had the opportunity to celebrate a holiday in another country?
To share their customs on a holiday you are very familiar with in your
own country? Well, I must share my little miracle with you as I am strengthened
every time I think of it. My understanding of the COMMUNION OF THE SAINTS
has become more dimensional and real. And with what sounds like a depressing
subject with all those candied skeletons and flowered skulls, is now seen
as a delightful custom .... El Día de los Muertos (The Day
of the Dead!) - Our Hallowe'en! Join me on my trip of discovery to Mexico
along with two dear friends from California.
OF THE DEAD
period of time, (31 Oct - 2 Nov) when many Latin American cultures believe
the dead come back to visit with family and loved ones and enjoy the pleasures
of their lives on earth. They join the living on this one day a year and
celebrate the continuation of life. ('Remember, Relive and Enjoy').
This old tradition reminds us of the Communion of Saints.
after my husband died - to the day)
City sits in the middle of mountains, a beautiful site from the air. A
wonderful flight in and now it is good to be here! We are met by our corporate
driver, Apolonio, a magnificent and gracious gentleman who could easily
pass as an Aztec nobleman. We each have a goal in the City. Therese opted
for Frieda Kahlo's studio//home and Marian chose the Museum of Anthropology.
Mine was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe), and this would be
our first stop. It is located in a poor section of the city - is it still
across from a Dennys!
OUR LADY of GUADALUPE*
towards the new Basilica, we walk past stalls packed with 1000s of brightly
colored images of Our Lady, Rosaries candles and other religious articles
typical of holy sites. We begin to see the Zapotec indians on their
knees, moving closer, with their eyes set on the entry and their first
glimpse of Our Lady of Guadalupe above the altar. Moms, Dads and
little children, all walking on their knees! Some bring the Baby
Jesus figure from their Church Creche for a special blessing. I begin to
cry recognizing my own lack of fath.
could not believe I was really here. My mind went back to last spring after
my husband Peter died on the feast of Sts Peter and Paul (June 29th)
after a long bout with cancer. The image of Our Lady of Guadalpe is over
our fireplace at home and I sat there in front of her and secretly prayed,
'I am very very discouraged and need a sign. I would like to visit you,
days later, Marian called and said that she and Teresa were going to Mexico
after the fair (A juried craft show we did every year in California). "Would
you like to go?", she asked. I said, "yes, if we can go to Guadalupe."
She said, "we are only going to Mexico City and Oaxaca." I said, "That's
close enough!" And that was it - and now here we are standing in
front of the image of Our Lady in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
It was October 29th. I had no idea what was ahead!
tilma / Mary
475 years before ....
converting her children
the altar in the Basilica, there is a people mover that gives one a closer
look at the image. I rode it several times to get the pictures above. No
explanation as to why this image could possibly have survived for over
475 years on this loosely woven, fragile cactus cloth that you could see
through. No signs of a paint brush ever touching its surface to originally
create this image. Instead, the colors are laid on the surface like colors
on a butterfly wing. This in itself is a miracle. The fact I was actually
in front of the image, was my little miracle from God!
is said Mary placed roses in Juan Diego's Tilma (A cape like garment) and
when he opened it in front of Bishop Zumarraga, (who had secretly prayed
for a sign of Castilian roses), the roses tumbled onto the floor. At the
same time, her image appeared on the tilma (as seen above). To this day
I wonder if there were enough of these rare, out of season December roses
to form a living rosary. When we pray the rosary, she reveals herself to
us in such a special way, sharing with us the scriptural story of her dear
son, Jesus, one bead at a time from beginning to end !.
see codice 1548 - first existing image
suggested we visit a small museum that had just completed settng up the
traditional shrine for the El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead),
a significant and lively holiday celebrated by the people of Mexico. (same
as 'All Hallows Eve' or 'Hallow'een" in the US.) We were led into
the museum by a single row of marigolds. (Marigolds are called the 'Flower
of the Dead'. It is believed the deceased can 'smell' the aroma of
the Marigolds and the fresh Bread and follow it to the shrine that has
been set up for them. Thus the pathway of Marigolds.)
with cut tissue paper
of 'mary's gold'
was beginning to understand why Theresa and Marian wanted to come at this
time of the year, I was apprehensive! But they were right. The 'Offrenda'
(offering) Shrine was just being set up as we visited and we met
the artist who is standing behind the door above. Mary's Gold? Yes, that
is the traditional symbolic meaning for Marigold, so found the other thought
would begin to discover how local artists express their talents in food,
paper, oil and sand paintings on the floor. Below is a great example of
layered tissue paper cutwork (Papel picado). Look what happens to
the tissue paper with proper lighting. My first response from a distance
was a type of stained glass.
include favorite foods and breads
tissue paper cutouts (above)
the items on the shrine. the skulls are decorated with brightly colored
candy flowers. The skulls are usually edible and made of pressed sugar
or sugar icing over baked goods. Bread (Pan de los Muertos) from home or
market is very popular. Favorite foods and drinks of the deceased are present
along with candles, pictures, personal items and other memorabilia.
of the SKELETONS*
skeletons abound in this museum exhibit and all over Mexico. The curator
explained each one. This was so foreign to me, it was good to have this
guidance as my first response was not good! I finally gave in to the artists
humor, and it was a good thing as these dancing figures would be welcoming
us on every turn of our trip in Mexico, especially during this holiday
shade - sun burn!
away the night
in Mexico City we also visited the incredible Museum of Anthropology which
gave us good insight at the Aztec life before the coming of Cortez and
eventurally the Vist of Our Lady of Guadalupe (1531). Her visit was almost
40 years after Columbus came to America in three prophetic ships
called: Nina (girl), Pinta (paint) and Santa Maria (St Mary). We
also visited Frieda Kahlo's home/studio where we saw a magnificent collection
of tin Ex Votos. Theresa had been a dinner guest there years ago and wanted
to see if it was still the same as a museum.
or 'All Hallows Eve', beginning of 'Todos Santos')
October 31, We left Mexico City for Oaxaca. Our flight was delightful!
We flew through hundreds of little clouds that looked like little sheep
being chased by big bear clouds. Then a tall cloud loomed out of the sky
ahead that appeard to be a Christ figure standing over his people came
into view. As we passed it, it turmed into an angel cloud - a wonderful
sign of protection on this trip of learning ... We passed over two famous
volcanos, Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl, the mountain of the sleeping woman,
but other that that there was little more than beautiful green mountains
and a few scattered villages below.
with cut tissue paper
skeletons / Guadalupe
City is a favorite of Artists and Writers. It is pretty much as it
was when Cortez came through in the 1500s. Samplings of the shrines or
'Offerings' (Offrenda) in Oaxaca (above) of the deceased loved ones are
abundant during the Day of the Dead. It is said that if you did not
set up a shrine with all their favorite things (foods, cigarettes, beer,
etc), they would come back to haunt and pester you with all kinds of nasty
little tricks all year long, so it was not really worth forgetting! We
shrines in private homes, businesses and hotel lobbys along with sand paintings
of holy figures (Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady etc.) surrounded by frames
of Marigolds on their stone floors . Only the imagination could hold one
back! At the compound, (Casa Panchita) a small protected world where we
stayed, we asked if we could ever eat the beautiful breads baked for the
special day. Panchita said, 'yes but only after the holiday because the
dead come and visit and take the 'spiritual essence' of the offering of
the bread first, then we could eat it! A few days later, we did!
Friday, November 1
we head for Friday Market in Ocotlán to join the local villigers.What
a wonderful way to spend All Saint's day! We were the only Anglos there
- then saw friends from the Bowers Museum (Costa Mesa CA)! From cooking
foods, baking breads to marigolds and red coxcombs - sugar skulls decorated
with candy flowers - aromas for the nose and eye brought forth God's blessings!
Colored canopies of old rugs and blankets kept venders out the sun. Great
music (CDs in boom boxs) added spirit to the shopping day. Local arts and
crafts abound. Oaxaca is known for its celebrated artists down to the traditional
embroidered clothes in reds, yellows and purples. (They shied away from
cameras and I respected their privacy.) These colors are even richer
when wrapped and woven into their beautiful long black hair.
market - Ocotlán
we went to Santo Tomas Jalietza where we purchased beautifully woven belts.
But the highlight was Crispina, our dear young lady (in the middle above)
who holds a book that showcases her weavings. I love the bag I bought from
her to this day! Again, the aroma of food cooking permeated the courtyard.
Her mom invited us into her kitchen for chicken mole with chocolate sauce
- it was delicious! In her simple and mostly bare kitchen, she had a beautiful
collection of the local black pottery hanging on the walls. A small
cooking fire was burning on the side and in the center of the room, an
extension cord came down from a light fixture in the ceiling and was plugged
into an Osterizer on the table - for making mole!
(Mary's Gold) for the shrines
on to San Bartolo Coyotepec to pick up some black pottery made famous by
Doña Rosa. We ran into the Bowers Museum folks again for the third
time! Back to town and to the The Basilica de la Soledad to visit the patroness
of Oaxaca, Our Lady of Soledad. A beautiful way to spend the day.
Then back to Panchitas, our little walled compound, where we join back
up with our newly found friends - Three lovely people, Bill Goldman, (art
collector from Chicago), Ann Reuter (teacher from Chicago)
and Hal Larsen (artist from Santa Fe). The six of us became great traveling
companions through the next week of discovery.
Saturday November 2
AT SANTO DOMINGO*
10 in the morning, the six of us headed off to the magnificent 16th century
'Templo de Santo Domingo', the pride of Oaxaca - for 11a Mass. Bill suggested
we go early as he said there will be a little lady who will open the church
by singing praises to God before Mass. And she did. She opened the door
to the church and tourists (including us) obediently followed her in. When
the tourists became a bit noisy, she was quick to clap her hands and loudly
reprimand them - loud enough for all to hear! Then she began to slowly
walk down the aisle singing praises to God before Mass started. She knew
how to fill that holy space with beautiful praise!
Altar - Santo Domingo
praises to God
was hard to believe so much beautiful music could come out of such a tiny
frame! After the priests celebrated a beautiful Spanish Mass, she
opened the side gates and proceeded to lead us into the gift shop where
she sold souvenirs, postcards and rosaries! After a quick visit we
headed for the old convent attached to the church to see the exquisite
collection of gold jewelry from Monte Albán, a large pre-Columbian
archaeological site on top of a local mountain.
to the CEMETERY*
was very familiar with the area and the artists. He encouraged a trip to
a cemetery about 30 minutes away (Teotitlán del Valle.) His
Weaver friend, Ismael Gutierrez, took us to the gravesite of his father.
It, like all the others, was adorned with flowers: Red Coxcomb, marigolds
and glads were mixed with roadside wildflowers. Favorite foods, cigarettes
and drinks mingled with family photos and Guadalupan votive candles. All
this made the grave marker hardly visible to the eye. Mescal (Tequila)
flowed abndantly among the happy relatives and friends sitting by the graves
of their loved ones, visiting and enjoying themselves. A very dear,
old woman in full native garments offered me Mescal 3 times! I was so taken
by her clothing (my major was old textiles and her garments were museum
quality) I could not answer her! I could only shake my head and sputter
out, 'no thank you' in English!
of the day
and grave markers were temporarily removed and stacked next to a tree to
make more room. And again, Marigolds were the traditional flowers of choice.
Camdles flickered amongst the flowers and as the sun began to set, the
whole grave yard took on a totally new mystical countenance. A warm,
loving presence came over the grounds and one could feel heaven so close!
And these beautiful people had taken us in as if we were family. Some would
bring blankets and spend the night.
sun gives in to flickering candles
at Panchitas we donned a collection of Hals masks (see below) and had a
parade through the house ending up in the kitchen where Panchitas family
was. (We had to wonder what happened to the new guests from Chicago having
dinner in the dining room as we never saw them again! They didn't look
too impressed with us as we marched by in our masks.) After our dinner,
the family children came by our rooms and knocked on our doors for 'tricks
or treats' US style. It was a great way to spend the holiday. Later
that night, you could hear marching bands of musicians weaving back and
forth through the streets of the city playing joyful music on tambourines,
trumpets, drums, trombones and tubas. And then all of a sudden about 2:30am
- it all stopped - and it was quiet again.
from the rest of the week
Theresa at the weavers at Santo Tomas Jalietza. With Our Lady of Soledad
in front of us, MIDDLE: Marian cuts little vintage metal arms, legs, cars,
cows, etc, called Milagros (miracles) from the traditional red venders
cloth that holds them for the faithful. The Faithful take them into the
church and offer them to the Virgin with hopes of a healing. (An ancient
Aztec custom, pre Guadalupe - 1531). And to the RIGHT; our friends
Bill, Hal and Ann in front of Santo Domingo Church, waiting for the doors
to open. People make a difference and the six of us shared uniquely individual
gifts with one another - I learned so much about the history of the area
and of the customs and the celebration of El Día de los Muertos
- The Day of the Dead - Our Hallowe'en, All Saint's Day and All Soul's
Day! Thanks to each one of them.
rest of the week was spent collecting treasures, visiting the many museums
and galleries in Oaxaca - and then - beginning to wonder how we were going
to pack all our treasures and get them through customs!
(My treasure was a very old, very primitive, 24 in. hand carved image of
Our Lady of Guadalupe. I hand carried it home.) Before we left Panchitas,
one of the young sons asked us to sign their guest book and our names joined
those of the Rockefellers (Collectors of Mexican folk art), Bette Midler
and family, Stanley Marcus (Neiman Marcus) to name a few! Panchita has
a magnificent collection of Latin American folk art herself, some of which
were being shown in Mexico City while we were there. Yet this beautiful
lady took care of us like a family member, cooking our delicious Mexican
cuisine, cleaning our rooms and washing our clothes!
& her beautiful quilt
learned a great deal about our Hallow'een through the Days of the Dead
and hope you did too by seeing these images. There is no better way to
understand this vigil and the two feast days that follow than being in
Mexico City and Oaxaxa. Many of these customs come from the Zapotec
and Aztec but I have concentrated more on the 16c Spanish Catholic influence.
I learned how close heaven is, how close our loved ones are that are deceased
and in the world of the Communion of Saints. I learned that a sense of
humor has its roots in God's own heart! Until next time:
Marian and Hal.
ROW: Margot', Ann, Terese, Billot
HAVE AN EARLY TRADITION THROUGH 1800s
INSPIRED BY ROSARIES SEEN IN MUSEUMS / BOOKS. POPULAR WITH RELIGIOUS
A SPLENDED REWARD
paste link to "SHOPPING STORE" below for more info or to order)
Our vision is to
provide the finest handmade rosaries, chaplets and other fine religious
art forms for personal worship we can make using the finest supplies available.
The Guild believes the work of our hands should give visual Glory to God,
therefore for us, the best for you is very, very important.
and paste now
OR CALL WEEKDAYS
- 9 to 5central
THE ONLINE ROSARY NOW
to return to
page you were on,
your back button
695 3561 - 9a - 5p central)
DAYS - MT- TF - (closed wednesdays)
cart - Email (24/7)
DON'T MISS OUR VISIT TO
BOWERS MUSEUM (in California)
WHEN THEY HOSTED THE GUADALUPAN COLLECTION
from the MEXICO MUSEUM BASILICA in MEXICO CITY !