Monday, October 17, 2011

The humor in El Dia de los Muertos

We've mentioned elsewhere how Ana, from a different society and different planet, for Pete's sake, came to appreciate El Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican observance of All Souls' Day. After the terrible experiences her ancestors barely survived in their early days on Thomo, they inevitably came to value human life even more than we do, partly because they value it collectively as well as individually. That is, their survival as a people depended on working together. To be sure, they have their disagreements as all people do, but these almost never descend to war, or the taking of lives.

Yet also, like people on Earth, they grow old and die. Ana instantly saw the value of El Dia de los Muertos. Thomans too remember and revere their ancestors. But their attitude toward death is to treat it as an adversary, to be fought at all costs. The idea of accepting it as a part of living was new to her, and took some getting used to.

One thing that helped her understand this notion was the humor Mexicans bring to the celebration. They make, sell, and buy huge numbers of tiny effigies or sculptures whose message is impossible to miss. Above and below are some examples: a skeletal bride and groom, with the legend "Hasta que la muerte nos separa," or "Until death do us part," and an ancestral computer user whose screen reads "Hay amor," "There is love." (Click any of these to see more detail.)

Finally, another humorous little sculpture less associated with El Dia de los Muertos, a Colombian airliner. In the first photo, "Aero Susto" means "Air Fright." In the third, "Milagro! Volamos" means "A miracle! We're flying!" Note that the plane is laden with products of Colombia: bags of coffee, bananas, roses, and people praying, holding on for dear life, and clutching their hands to their breasts. Nor are the animals left behind!


No comments: