Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Dia de los Muertos Celebration (Day of the Dead)

Dia de los Muertos Festival at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA, 2012. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.


Although “Day of the Dead” sounds like a George Romero movie, — ominous and dark, — this holiday is spent from October 31st through November 2nd reaffirming the beauty and joy of LIFE.

Throughout Mexico and the rest of Latin America, revelers sing, dance, march in parades, dress up in costumes, and honor the memory of dead family members. Prayers are offered for the souls of the dearly departed.

Midnight, October 31st – The gates of Heaven open. The veil thins between life and death.

November 1st – All Saints’ Day and the Day of the Children. The spirits of dead children may visit their families for 24 hours.

November 2nd – All Souls’ Day and the Day of the Dead, when the spirits of dead adults may visit their families for 24 hours.

Cemeteries and churches are decorated with flowers and candles. Special alters are set up to honor the dead. Families share picnics at the graves of their loved ones, leaving plates of the dead person’s favorite foods on the grave.

Skeletons and skulls are important symbols representing death. Revelers don skull masks and eat decorated sugar skulls. Sweet pastries are served. Costumes and decorations burst forth with bright, fiery colors, reminding everybody of the motion, fluidity, creativity, celebration, energy, and liveliness of LIFE. Music is joyous and uplifting. These days are days of Happiness where people fully recognize that Death is a natural part of the cycle of LIFE.

The roots of this festival are 3,000 years old, dating back to the Aztecs and other indigenous tribes.

Aztec dancers, Dia de los Muertos festival, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA, 2012. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.

Celebrate your life! Celebrate your creativity! Celebrate LIVING!

Dawn Pisturino

October 31, 2021

Copyright 2012 – 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Illustration by Richard Cunningbot

Poem by Dawn Pisturino


I think that I shall never crave

A home as lovely as a grave.

A restful place deep in the ground

Without a trace of light or sound.

A grassy mound high on a hill,

Host to yellow daffodil.

And when the snow begins to fall,

I will not be disturbed at all.

A pleasant park is all I need

And visitors who stop to read

The granite marker at my head:

“Rest in Peace to All the Dead!”

October 5, 2011

Published in the November 2011 issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree.

Copyright 2011-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


The Triduum of All Hallows’ Eve

In the Celtic world, the end of October and beginning of November were set aside for a great feast every year to celebrate the end of the summer (or Samhain) and the beginning of winter. People played games and told stories about great Celtic heroes and the gods and goddesses of Celtic lore.

The festival also marked the thinning of the veil between this world and the Other World. The spirits of the dead could visit this world, and the living could visit the land of the dead.

Samhain was so special, in fact, the normal laws of the universe did not apply. Fairies left their underground homes, and ordinary humans were subjected to fantastic dreams and adventures (often involving fairies). Families called on the spirits of dead ancestors to visit them. And the spirits who responded to their calls were often granted special powers. Celtic monsters prowled the earth with such ferocity that even the gods and goddesses were no match for them. In Ireland, Aillen mac Midna re-enacted his annual ritual and burned the court of Tara to ashes.

Bonfires blazed on the hilltops, lighting up the shortening nights. These bonfires were so significant that their ashes were used in magical charms to ward off illness and disease.

Today, Samhain is celebrated as Halloween on October 31st. The word “Halloween” actually means All Hallows’ Eve, or the eve of All Saints’ Day, which is celebrated in the Christian community on November 1st. This special day is set aside to honor the souls and memories of martyrs and saints. November 2nd is known as All Souls’ Day (or Dia de Los Muertos),when Christians pray for the souls of their dearly departed. These three days are known collectively as the Triduum of All Hallows’ Eve (or Hallowtide).

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Roke, Sweden, celebrating All Saints’ Day. Photo by David Castor.

Remember: the custom of carving and lighting turnips, pumpkins, and other gourds was meant to ward off the evil spirits that might visit on Halloween. Halloween is also a time to dress up and make merry! In the United States, it marks the beginning of the holiday season that runs through New Year’s Day. So eat, drink, and be merry!

Dawn Pisturino

October 26, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


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