Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I See Dead People

November 2 is the Day of the Dead here. It is a day set aside to remember your family members who have died. We have been under the assumption that this holiday was similar to Memorial Day in the States, but it's very different... at least around here. (Many parts of Guatemala, specifically the Petén are like separate countries when it comes to culture and traditions.)

During the days leading up to this holiday wreaths are sold to place on loved ones' graves. You can read about Jimmy's wreath story here.
You'll see fiambre being sold on the street, which is a colorful salad with meat on it. I love that holidays come with their own food!
Fredi in Santa Rita. He's so bashful and mischievous. Very smart too.
Kids will be outside flying homemade kites. Some believe, that the kites unite the dead with the living.

When we arrived for the Bible study in Santa Rita on Sunday, Auda greeted me. I was chit chatting with her about the Day of the Dead. She casually said, "There are already dead people walking around." Auda is a very smart 8 year old Kekchi girl. She was completely serious when she said this. It got me wondering about what exactly this holiday meant around here.

I decided to ask Mateo on the way home, who also is Kekchi, but he has accepted Christ. He prefaced all of what he was about to say by saying this: "I know that you guys don't believe in this, but this is what my family does..." His family, and I am assuming most traditional mayan families, put out pictures of their loved ones who have died and light candles. They also prepare an extra meal for this loved one in hopes that they will come by and eat it... they eat the spirit of the food, the food physically does not disappear. He also added that only dogs can see the dead walking around.

He then said that if you talk to a "really really old" Kekchi man he will tell a story from his childhood about a boy who took the eye boogers from a dog and put them in his own eyes. That allowed him to see the dead walking around too. The boy told his entire town about what he saw, the dead walking around eating, and then the next day he died.

I thought it was interesting to get more insight into what this holiday really means here. It was helpful in letting us understand more about the people and we will be better at sharing the Gospel with them because of it. Next year I am going to pay closer attention and take better photos.

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