|Catrinas decorate buildings and a sculpture in Tlaquepaque|
All that aside, one part of Día de Muertos we weren't familiar with or prepared for were the Altars de Muertos (altars for the dead). We learned about them a couple months ago when another American prof from the university was telling us about the wonderful altar displays that the university put up for the Day of the Dead, and how we would really love to go and see them all. "So elaborate and beautiful," she said. Altars? Kraig and I looked at each other puzzled. We asked a few questions, but didn't get much information. Then at the beginning of this month, Jon's kindergarten newsletter mentioned that his class would be making an altar for Día de Muertos. I thought at the time I should ask more about it, but I let it go until the other week when the teachers started to talk about the Halloween celebration and the altars. Suddenly it was something we had to really think about.
|A sugar calavera|
|Jon & Ev's skeletal creation today|
Kraig has seen it more in black and white. An altar is an altar is an altar in his mind, and that means worship or sacrifice whether one believes it or not. We don't even have altars for God under the New Covenant. The fact that the root of these altars is the Aztec human sacrifices hasn't help the case either. We've gone back and forth on it. I don't like them, but I have been more torn by the question of how to bow out graciously without creating huge barriers. We were able to talk with other believers who have lived here a good bit longer than us, and they confirmed some of our concerns, which helped. I agreed I would talk with Ms. Mariana and see what parts of the celebration revolved around the altars so we would know what the kids would have to miss.
The good news is, I did get to talk to Ms. Mariana today and she was very understanding and gracious. She was also able to explain more of the details of the celebration to me, which solidified my resolve that this isn't the best holiday for our family to participate in. I want to learn more about it, but mostly because I hate to hold a view without fully understanding where another is coming from and I like to be able to discuss things. For now, though, we need to step back and watch from a distance. We'll see what more we learn in the coming year.