Mirjana Filipovic is still haunted by the land mine blast that killed her boyfriend and blew off her left leg while on fishing trip nearly a decade ago. It happened in a field that was supposedly de-mined.More >>
Mirjana Filipovic is still haunted by the land mine blast that killed her boyfriend and blew off her left leg while on a fishing trip nearly a decade ago. It happened in a field that was supposedly de-mined.More >>
Just weeks after a tense border standoff, China's new premier headed to India on Sunday for his first foreign trip as the neighboring giants look to speed up efforts to settle a decades-old boundary dispute and...More >>
Just weeks after a tense border standoff, China's new premier visited India on Sunday on his first foreign trip as the neighboring giants look to speed up efforts to settle a decades-old boundary dispute and boost...More >>
Several Iranian newspapers are citing a senior Revolutionary Guard commander as warning his forces will be on watch for possible unrest after the June 14 presidential election.More >>
A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard has warned that his forces will be on watch for possible unrest after next month's presidential election, calling the outcome "unpredictable" and sending the strongest...More >>
Syrian activists say government airstrikes and heavy shelling of a strategic town near the Lebanese border have killed at least 16 people, including rebel fighters.More >>
The Syrian military on Sunday launched an offensive to retake a strategic rebel-held town near the Lebanese border, a government official said, as activists reported that regime airstrikes and shelling of the town have...More >>
MEXICO CITY (RNN) – It may sound like a day of morbidity and death, but the Day of the Dead is actually a celebration of loved ones who have passed and their lives here on Earth. On Thursday, millions of people throughout Mexico, Latin America and the U.S. are taking part in the traditional holiday.
Vivid symbols of the day are the decorative skeletons that call to mind loved ones who have departed. The day is full of joy, and instead of mourning, relatives rejoice in the afterlife and prepare for lost souls to visit.
"It is a happy day because the old souls return to Earth," Helen Narvaez said. "It's not a sad day if you believe in eternal life."
In Central Mexico, the observance can be traced to the ancient Aztec civilization and one of their gods of death.
As the legend goes, on the night of the Day of the Dead, Mictecacihuatl opened up the underworld, allowing the spirits to come to Earth and eat and drink offerings that were left for them. For the culture, death was a continuation of life.
When Spanish conquerors arrived in Mexico, they merged this celebration with the Catholic feast day known as All Saint's Day. And hundreds of years later, the holiday remains an integral part of life.
"It's a huge deal in Mexico. They put up huge offerings on altars in the grand plazas of big and small cities and towns, for example," Monica Narvaez, niece of Helen, said. "And downtown Mexico City has many altar offerings, too."
Mexico City, after all, is where the capital of the Aztec Empire once stood. So it's no surprise that the city goes all out for the holiday.
"They go out into the cemeteries where their loved ones are, and on their graves, they lay offerings," Helen Narvaez said. "And they fix the graves, and they paint them, clean them up and cover them with flowers."
Monica Narvaez, who was born and raised in Mexico, has done this since she was a child.
"When we put up the offering, we put marigolds, confetti, copal incense, sugar skulls, et cetera," she said.
Monica is a culinary student, so money is tight. She won't be able to place an offering this year, but she will observe the holiday, which holds many cheerful memories for her.
"I remember years ago going downtown to see the offerings and saw lots of Aztec dancers dancing all night long," she said. "You could join in when they 'opened the entrance,' which is a space in their circle where you can jump in. And you cannot stop until it is opened again."
In the southern state of the Yucatan, which is located in the southern part of Mexico, the holiday is celebrated differently due to the region's Mayan influence.
Helen, who is a native of the capital city Merida, describes the holiday as "a very big day."
"It's like Thanksgiving here, except it's the souls that we are celebrating," she said.
The holiday is called Hanal Pixan, which is translated to "meal of the souls" in the Mayan language. Beginning on the last day of October, those who have already entered the afterlife are permitted to return home to their families.
Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 are dedicated in memory of departed children and departed adults, respectively.
The Pixan Mass, or u hanal picanoob, is celebrated Nov. 2 by a priests in local cemeteries. The Mass is dedicated to all souls.
For the feast, families prepare altars for their loved ones on which they place special tools for the souls to journey back into the afterlife. Traditional items include a cross, candles, water, salt and incense.
Photos of dead relatives and their saints are placed on the altars, along with items that were meaningful to the loved ones during their lifetimes. For example, if you were a smoker, a package of cigarettes may be placed on the altar, or beer or other similar items. Children get toys, and bottles of milk or chocolate.
A special dish called muci pollo, which Helen describes as a tamale pie, is baked and placed on the altars. It is eaten by the living relatives with a special drink of hot chocolate.
During the celebrations, family members also visit the tombs of their ancestors and clean them, so their ancestors find them orderly upon their return.
For Helen, home is now America, where she will spend the day at Mass and visiting her son's grave, celebrating eternal life all along.
"Death is part of life," she said."It's the one thing that we've all got to go through."
Copyright 2011 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
Saturday, November 10 2012 1:48 PM EST2012-11-10 18:48:37 GMT
(RNN) – With the majority of ballots counted and the question of who will be the next president put to rest, only Florida remains undecided as vote tallies continued into Wednesday. With 97 percent reported,More >>
The state of Florida has finished its tally, and its 29 electoral votes went to President Barack Obama. Not that it mattered. More >>
Wednesday, November 7 2012 9:48 AM EST2012-11-07 14:48:58 GMT
(RNN) – Obama took on a variety of issues during his first term in the Oval Office, and he pledged to continue his plan of economic recovery in the next four years. His campaign rode the theme of "Change"More >>
"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation," said Mitt Romney in his concession speech.More >>