Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dia de los Muertos / Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead, or El Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican celebration of the deceased. The tradition has been practiced by indigenous people for at least 3,000 years. When the Spanish arrived in the Americas, they tried to stamp it out, changing the date to coincide with the Catholic holy days – All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1 and 2). But the Aztec and Meso-American tradition survived, incorporating Catholic theology.
Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America. People don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives, and place wooden skulls on altars dedicated to the dead. In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery where their relatives are buried to decorate the gravesites, give gifts—toys for dead children and bottles of tequila to adults—and picnic, eating the favorite food of their loved ones.
-from New America Media, for full text and photos, visit

Cover Photo from Defibaugh's book
In his 2007 book, The Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos, Denis Defibaugh, photography professor in RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, documents his photographic vision through the people and their rituals as they honor family members who have died.
Defibaugh’s interest in the Day of the Dead began in 1993 when he received a Fulbright/Hayes Fellowship for Mexico and met author/historian Ward Albro. Over the past decade, Defibaugh and Albro, professor emeritus at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, have been welcomed into people’s homes and taken part in the public festivals. The Day of the Dead holiday, All Soul’s Day, coincides with the Catholic tradition of All Saint’s Day and resembles the United States’ more commercial Halloween. The hardbound book features street photography and intimate portraits. Along with Defibaugh’s photography, Albro writes an essay about the background of the beliefs and practices of the Dia de los Muertos observance. “The response to the book has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Defibaugh. “I’m very proud of it. Some of the people of Oaxaca were initially hesitant about me photographing them, especially at the festival in the cemetery. On my subsequent visits, I would give each person a copy of their photograph, and it would change the entire situation. People would line up to have me photograph them. The whole idea of giving photos back to people opens up a dialogue because they feel they are part of the whole experience. That’s reflected in the book.” -from RIT University News
- for the full article visit .
-to purchase book through, visit the Library section of this blog

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