Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Work in Progress and Happy Halloween .....

Butterflies and Heart Songs ....

This blog design is a work in progress.  With my friend, Dave, I'm learning and changing as I go.  Comments re:  changes in appearance (and content!) of blog are accepted and, hopefully, appreciated.
Seriously, my original intention for becoming a blogger was to document those aspects of my life and experience I'd like for my grandchildren to know.  It is still an important goal of this blogging experience.  However,  I'm also 'meeting' and 'making' so many new friends, in addition to recording for my family, the whole thing continually 'morphs.'   Who knows where it will end?

Happy Halloween to All and My family's "Halloween"

Having been raised in the Catholic Church, I was taught that Halloween is the celebration of All Hallows' Eve, the night before All Saints Day, November 1st, which is followed by All Souls Day, November 2nd.  When my children were growing up, Halloween was only surpassed in excitement and anticipation by Christmas.  We observed the yearly holiday with many family traditions:  homemade costume creation by Mom and kids together, traditional Halloween dinner of MP's Lasagna.  Of course, as young children, there was Treat or Treating with Mom and / or Dad, later to be experienced with friends, etc.  There were occasional parties, but nothing like those involving my grandchildren.  For my 5 thirteen-year-old grandchildren (Malia, Samantha, Spencer, Tate and Avery), I'm guessing that the parties before and on Halloween are the most important activities.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, the tradition of simply Trick or Treating has lost much of its oomph!

El Día de Los Muertos or All Souls' Day .....

While living in Guatemala during two yearly celebrations of El Día de Los Muertos, November 2nd, I'm more familiar with their Hispanic / Maya traditions of the holiday than those in Mexico.  It is a very important day in both the cultural and religious traditions of this little Central American country.

There are innumerable parades with magnificent floats that are taken out of storage and marched through the streets of Antigua (where I lived), not only on November 2nd, but around that date, too.  But, the tradition I most associate with Guatemala's traditions is the whole day of November 2nd, the Mayan tradition is that the entire family (that's a lot of people!) goes to the cemetery to honor the departed.  They do so by flying elaborately designed and built kites while in the cemetery.  The belief is that if one flies a kite over the grave of a dearly departed, his/her spirit will be lifted to Heaven.  These celebrations take place in cemeteries all over the country; it's an incredibly spectacular event.

There is also a traditional culinary extravaganza called "Fiambre."  There are probably as many ways to prepare it as there are ways to create a Thanksgiving dinner in the US.   The word, fiambre, actually translates "cold cuts;" and the presentation can be from simple to unbelievably lavish.  My first year's experience took place during the six months I lived with a 'middle-class' Guatemalan family; I define their economic condition only because Guatemala is a very poor country - their tradition is not necessarily universal.  María Isabel and Beatríz (housekeeper/cook) spent days and days working with meats, fruits and vegetables ... cleaning, chopping, marinating, cooking, smoking, combining, creating a feast sufficient to feed 30 or 40 people for, probably, days!  The kitchen in their house is very modern, by Guatemalan standards, housing a refrigerator, gas stove and oven, microwave, sink, counters.  The majority of families live in houses without electricity or gas and very often without running water; but, does that stop them?  No way.  The sometimes outdoor wood-burning fireplace-stove is going for days.  I'm sure the tradition of marinating and pickling is due to the lack of refrigeration available.

I will post photos when I can find them; hopefully, in time for November Second.

Today I'm off to visit Old Town Albuquerque.  Be back later...

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