“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness”
hile Lutherans around the world are celebrating All Souls Day on November 1, in Mexico the celebrations are more colorful and festive. Some may confuse Día de los Muertos with America’s celebration of Halloween, but Halloween is a totally pagan festival. In fact, The Day of the Dead is a Catholic festival that takes place on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, November 1 and 2, and is a celebration of life and remembrance of loved ones who have died. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don extravagant makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and build altars to remember their lost relatives. The altars contain water to quench thirst after the long journey, the dead one’s favorite foods, family photos, and a candle for each dead relative. If one of the spirits is a child, you might find small toys on the altar as well. Marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate.
People dress in decorative costumes and paint their faces to look like skulls. This is to scoff at the rich in their finery. “Todos somos calaveras,” they say, meaning “we are all skeletons.” Underneath all our manmade trappings, we are all the same. In the same way, sugar skulls are used everywhere for decoration, gifts, and treats.
I have seen more and more references to celebrations of Day of the Dead here in the Treasure Valley by Hispanics embracing their cultural heritage and commemorating this wonderful holiday. By sharing funny or treasured stories of their loved ones every year, their memory does not grow dim. And knowing that you will be remembered on a special day every year after you have died would be comforting as well.
This is the promise of God in the book of Revelation:
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
If you have friends or family planning for a Day of the Dead festivity, find out how you can join their celebration.
Information from “Top 10 things to know about the Day of the Dead,” National Geographic Magazine, October 26, 2017.
Lord God, our hearts are heavy when we remember our loved ones who have died. We thank you for the saints who led the way through bold teaching and action. We thank you for the ones who have guided our lives and focused our faith by their word and example. We thank you for all our family members who have gone before us. We thank you for all the “great cloud of witnesses” who have given witness to your faithfulness. We pray when grief and doubt overwhelm us that you will remind us that we are not as those who have no hope. We have the promise of Jesus our Hope and the Holy Spirit our Comforter.
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to you, O Lord God, forever and ever.