Tag Archives: Marigolds

The Zuniga-Odom Family Altar for Dia de los Muertos – 2015

Zuniga-Odom altar 2015

Zuniga-Odom altar 2015

My altars this year were very similar to last year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to change things up a bit but I didn’t plan very well. So, I’ll hold those ideas until next year…

Meanwhile, I did add more to my dining room table altar! I always use a pair of two-tiered plate stands for different events and gatherings at my house. Since I bought the cute male and female sugar skulls at Target, I used those on the top place and scattered marigolds on the bottom plate. It really made the table explode in color!

Something new on my altar/table this year is the two tiered stand - a great place to put my new Sugar Skull in top hat decoration (from Target) - just add marigolds!

Something new on my altar/table this year is the two tiered stand – a great place to put my new Sugar Skull in top hat decoration (from Target) – just add marigolds!

I have to admit, it’s hard to take everything down. I’ll be doing that this weekend but the candles – the battery operated flicker kind – make the dining room and living room so beautiful at night.

Until next year…Feliz Día de los Muertos!

One of my favorite photos with my dad...

One of my favorite photos with my dad…

The Zuniga siblings  my grandfather (far right) Apolonio Guerrero (Polo)and his siblings.

The Zuniga siblings my grandfather (far right) Apolonio Guerrero (Polo)and his siblings.

My dad, Praxedis Sotelo Zuniga, in his T-bird.  Photo taken in Bangkok, Thailand.  His handkerchief, rosary and Air Force pin.

My dad, Praxedis Sotelo Zuniga, in his T-bird. Photo taken in Bangkok, Thailand. His handkerchief, rosary and Air Force pin.

My dad's Leica camera...next to a tequila shot set I bough in Mexico many years ago.

My dad’s Leica camera…next to a tequila shot set I bough in Mexico many years ago.

Zuniga family crest on a cloth bag - these were given out at a recent Zuniga family reunion.

Zuniga family crest on a cloth bag – these were given out at a recent Zuniga family reunion.

My coffee table altar with pictures of my mother's family - her parents, sister, grandparents...  My pup, Lucy helped by watching.

My coffee table altar with pictures of my mother’s family – her parents, sister, grandparents… My pup, Lucy helped by watching.

A favorite photo of my grandparents and aunt - Onnie and Louise Stone and Gail Stone Thomas.

A favorite photo of my grandparents and aunt – Onnie and Louise Stone and Gail Stone Thomas.

Zuniga family photos - my dad, his siblings and parents (front photo) and my grandparents Zuniga on their wedding day (photo on left).

Zuniga family photos – my dad, his siblings and parents (front photo) and my grandparents Zuniga on their wedding day (photo on left).

Zuniga-Odom altar at night

Zuniga-Odom altar at night

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Day of the Dead 2015

Preparing for Day of the Dead – 2015

Some of the items on my Day of the Dead living room altar include a Day of the Dead book, carnations, butterflies and photos...

Some of the items on my Day of the Dead living room altar include a Day of the Dead book, carnations, butterflies and photos…

Day of the Dead is tomorrow and I just finished up my altars at home this afternoon.  I feel like the celebration snuck up on me this year with all the traveling I’ve been doing lately.  Last year I decided I would use real marigolds on my altars in the dining room rather than the silk ones from the craft store.  Well, that didn’t happen…  I also wanted to go through all my photos and bring some new ones out of some of my family that’s gone.  Again, that didn’t happen…I am in the process of moving my ginormous stash of photos and slides to my daughter’s old room so things are a little disorganized at the moment.

A copy of a photo of the some of the Wilson children...front and center is my mother-in-law, Johnnie.  Behind her are her brothers Jim and Bob and to her right is her sister Joyce.  Uncle Jim was the last remaining Wilson sibling and he passed away this October.

A copy of a photo of the some of the Wilson children…front and center is my mother-in-law, Johnnie. Behind her are her brothers Jim and Bob and to her right is her sister Joyce. Uncle Jim was the last remaining Wilson sibling and he passed away this October.

All this feeling of disorganization went away last night as I added the last photos to my altars and a few new touches.  Funny how things just come together when you need them to and this evening I am so pleased with the result.  I just want these altars to be a special tribute to the family that is now gone, especially the recent losses we have experienced.  Earlier this year we lost my cousin Chila – Orcilia Zuniga Forbes quite suddenly.  Just a few weeks ago, we lost my husband’s Uncle, James Edward Wilson who was 93.  So sad to be adding more people but at the same time, it’s good to remember them, their accomplishments and the love we had and continue to have for them.

My cousin, Chila - Orcilia Zuniga Forbes - who passed away suddenly a few months ago.  I love this photo of her that is on the Meyers Trust website in tribute to her service on this foundation.

My cousin, Chila – Orcilia Zuniga Forbes – who passed away suddenly a few months ago. I love this photo of her that is on the Meyers Trust website in tribute to her service on this foundation.

I set tea-light candles out on the altars this afternoon and took photos of everything.  Tomorrow, I will light the candles and spend some time with my altars remembering the good times and wonderful lives of our family members who are no longer with us physically.

This photo of Uncle Jim kept getting reposted on Facebook shortly after his death.  I love this picture...a gentle and good man in the presence of animals.

This photo of Uncle Jim kept getting reposted on Facebook shortly after his death. I love this picture…a gentle and good man in the presence of animals.

What Exactly Is Day of the Dead?

IMG_7272Several years ago, I was co-teaching an 8 week Spanish language and culture class.  For the first 15 minutes of each class, I would give the students a look into various aspects of Mexican culture.  This one particular class was right before the local Bare Hands Gallery Day of the Dead festival.  So, I thought the timing was perfect to share the information and invite the class to come out and experience Day of the Dead, Birmingham style!

A few heads in the room nodded as I began to explain Day of the Dead – Día de los Muertos – but for the most part, I saw confused faces…clearly more explanation was needed.  That’s when it hit me and I said.. “How many of you have ever been to decoration day at your church?”  Light bulbs started to go off around the room… “well, Day of the Dead is like the Mexican version of this!”  And suddenly…everyone was nodding and smiling!

IMG_7275One of the questions I got that day was about how similar Day of the Dead (DOD)  seemed to be to Halloween – how maybe it was the Mexican version of Halloween.  But that couldn’t be further from the truth.  DOD is a celebration of life.  It has nothing to do with witches, goblins, spiders and spider webs.  It is a time to remember our loved one who have passed on.  It doesn’t celebrate death, but it DOES celebrate the lives of our ancestors.

IMG_7276So what are all the sugar skull skeletons about then?  If you look at the traditional Halloween skull vs. the Day of the Dead sugar skull, you’ll notice a definite difference in their expressions – one is a bit menacing while the other has a pleasant expression and is very colorful.  Sugar skulls or “Calaveras,” represent a departed soul and back in the 18th century, the names of the departed were written on the forehead of the skull and placed on the home altar or the gravestone to honor the return of that person’s spirit.

Offerings, or “ofrendas,” are also a part of the celebration.  These are items that were important to the deceased loved one and could be food, drink, a special artifact.  During the class, I asked if they had ever seen tokens or items at local cemeteries and several people said yes.  For instance, teddy bears or special floral arrangements.  So explaining “ofrendas” made more sense when put in those terms.

IMG_7274Speaking of flowers, the flower used for Day of the Dead is the orange marigold, the cempasúchil flower.  It was the flower that the Aztecs used to remember their dead by.  The color is so vibrant and the belief is that it would guide the souls to their homes and altars on this special day.

DOD takes place over two days and coincides with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and all Souls’ Day on November 1 and 2.  November 1 is the day for honoring children and infants or “angelitos,” while November 2 is the day for honoring deceased adults.  If you are in Mexico during the first two days of November, there is no mistaking the power of this holiday.  In Birmingham, Alabama…it is growing in recognition and in the number of people who want to take part in remembrance.

At the end of the class, many of the students stayed to talk more and ask more questions.  I loved being able to share more about DOD and show photos I had taken of the local festival.  Several remarked about how beautiful the altars were and how artistic some people were in their presentations.  One lady remarked how heartfelt it all seemed and thought about trying to create an altar of her own the following year.

I know I saw several of the students at the festival a few weeks later and that made me smile…

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