November 01, 2007

DAY OF THE DEAD


Welcome to Goat Rope's official Haint Week. If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts.

"Haint" is Appalachian for that which haunts, which is a pretty good theme for Halloween week.

A Mexican custom of which El Cabrero is a big fan of is the Day of the Dead, which corresponds with All Saints Day in the Church calendar. Halloween, you recall, is All-Hallows-Eve or the day before. Similar customs are observed elsewhere, but it is the official Goat Rope verdict that this is the coolest.

The celebration likely has pre-Christian roots. During the Aztec month of Miccailhuitonli (say that 10 times while spinning around), there was a festival presided over by the "Lady of the Dead" which was dedicated both to children and the dead. Originally, this was celebrated in the summer, but there was an understandable post-colonial shift.

Now the festivities usually continue for the first two days of November and include acts that symbolically welcome the dead back into their homes and visiting family graves. There's special food including "pan de muerto" or bread of the dead. Family altars and gravesides are decorated with religious objects and symbolic offerings of food flowers and even alcohol and cigarettes.

I think the basic idea is right on, i.e. that the living and the dead are connected. That idea is enshrined in the ancient creeds of Christianity, which speak of "the communion of saints."

Maybe that's because the dead aren't quite as dead as we tend to think or the living aren't as alive as we tend to think. I'll leave that to the reader's discretion...

YOU DON'T NEED A WEATHERMAN... Here's a sobering item on climate change and global warming.

NO FEAR? Consider reconsidering.

A FAIR DAY'S WORK FOR--WHAT? Here's a call for decent wages and conditions for all.

BOOK BATTLES. The recent efforts by some Kanawha County parents to ban Pat Conroy's novels from AP English classes reminds some folks of an epic book battle that took place more than 30 years ago.

MINE SAFETY LEGISLATION MOVES IN US HOUSE. A House panel approved stronger mine safety measures, a step that the industry and Bush administration will oppose.

MEGAN WILLIAMS MARCH UPDATE. Here's the Daily Mail interviewing the Rev. Matthew Watts, a member of the Charleston Ministerial Alliance, about a march planned for this Sunday by out of state groups. Several WV groups have declined to support the event.

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

2 comments:

Jay said...

I was watching American Gangster on BET (great show)about Frank Lucas, subject of the new Denzel Washington/Russell Crow movie, Giuliani supporter, and heroin dealer. Understanding the importance of a low profile and being from North Carolina, Lucas called himself the Haint of Harlem.

Excellent blog! One of my first reads of the day.

El Cabrero said...

Hi Jay,
Thanks for the note! I didn't realize the term haint had made it so far north.