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Sweet Candied Death LbNA #56348 (ARCHIVED)

Owner:N/A
Plant date:Nov 2, 2010
Location:
City:East Los Angeles
County:Los Angeles
State:California
Boxes:1
Planted by:Aljan Contact Inactive
Found by: MrOspital
Last found:Jul 13, 2011
Status:F
Last edited:Nov 2, 2010
December 2011 *sob* I have been told that this box is missing. Seeing as it is the second one that has gone missing, and it was sooooo uber cool... I don't really have any plans to replace it. ~Aljan

Thank you Kelsung for adopting and planting this box for me!

Foreigners have more trouble understanding Los Dias de Los Muertos than any of Mexico's other fiestas. At first glance, Day of the Dead decorations remind visitors of Halloween.

The beliefs of today's Mexican are based on the complicated blended cultures of his ancestors, the Aztec and Maya and Spanish invaders, layered with Catholicism. The origins of the Days of the Dead reach into the ancient history of Europe and Mexico. In the eighth century, the church decreed November 1 as All Saints Day. Setting aside the day to honor the martyrs and saints was an attempt to replace the 2000-year tradition of the Celts and their Druid priests who combined harvest festivals and celebrated the new year on November 1. The Celtic dead were believed to have access to earth on Samhain, October 31st, when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead relaxed. The Celts danced around huge bonfires, wearing animal heads and hides to confuse the spirits and burned crops and animals as offerings to the returning dead. Around the end of the first millennium, the church reinforced its attempt to cover the Celtic celebration by designating November 2 as All Souls' Day to honor the dead. All Souls' Day was celebrated with parades, big bonfires and the people dressed as saints, angels and devils. In the language of the day, All Saints Day and All Souls' Day were known as All Hallowsmas, and October 31 was "All Hallow’s Eve" or Hallow'e'en.

When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico they encountered two-month celebrations honoring death, the fall harvest and the new year. For more than 500 years, the goddess Mictecacihuatl (Lady of the Dead) presided over Aztec harvest rituals using fires and incense, costumes of animal skins, images of their dead and offerings of ceramics, personal goods, flowers and foods, drink and flowers. While the church attempted to transform the joyous celebration to a suitably tragic image of death and a serious day of prayer focusing attention and reflection on the saints and martyrs, the people of Mexico did not fully adopt the early priests' ideas, and by keeping their familiar ceremonies, All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day evolved into the celebrations that today honor the dead with color, candles and joy.

Los Dias de Los Muertos is a time for remembering friends, family and ancestors. There is a legend that says, "In our tradition, people die three deaths. The first death is when our bodies cease to function. The second death comes when the body is lowered into the ground, returned to mother earth, out of sight. The third death, the most definitive death, is when there is no one left alive to remember us."

The act of preparing an altar by placing photographs, flowers, candles, favorite foods and drink of the loved one provides a special time to remember. The living invite the spirits of the family to return home for a few hours of laughter, tears and memories. While most altars are laden with the favorite foods, sweets, drinks and fruits of those being remembered, even the most basic altar includes these basic items:

• WATER to quench the thirst and for purification

• SALT to season the food and for purification

• BREAD to represent the food needed for survival

A washbasin, soap, towel, mirror and comb are also placed nearby so the spirits can clean up when they return.

Colorful tissue paper, papel picado, is cut into intricate designs and strung to flutter over and around the altar. This custom comes from the Aztecs who used paper banners in rituals.

Some families prepare the altar of offerings at the family grave site, lighting a candle for each dead one, remembering the names, and placing flowers or coronas (wreaths) at the cemetery. Many stay to visit, eat, drink and pray while they keep a vigil during the night. All night, throughout the cemetery there is a grand family reunion of huge extended families, alive and dead, as one by one, through stories, memories and dreams, the dead return.

The hand crafted skeletons, Calaveras are often funny and friendly rather than frightening or spooky. They represent the beloved dead ones, their occupations and hobbies. The figures, along with the smells of favorite foods, help the spirits find the right house.

Flowers, symbolizing the brevity of life, are massed and fashioned into garlands, wreaths and crosses to decorate the altar and the grave. The marigold is the most traditional flower of the season. In Aztec times it was called the cempasuchil, the flower of 400 lives. The fragrance of the cempasuchil leads the spirits home. Sometimes paths of the petals lead out of the cemetery and to the house to guide the spirits. A cross of marigold petals is formed on the floor so that as the spirit approaches the altar, it will step on the cross and expel its guilt.

The living flatter and woo death, singing to her, dancing with her, lifting their glasses to her and laughing at her. Finally, they challenge her, and in the challenging, death loses her power to intimidate them once they know death intimately, death is no longer wrapped in a cloak of mystery or causes them to fear the darkness. Once the fear of death has been defeated, the clutch she has on the hearts and minds of the living is lessened once and for all. Death's morbid side is buried under music and remembrances, while skeletons laugh and dance and sing as the living celebrate life in its embrace of death.

The clues...

This box will rest in peace within the quiet gates of Evergreen Cemetery in East Los Angeles, near the intersection of Evergreen Ave and Ceasar Chavez, with the entrance being on Evergreen Ave. Enter the gates and take the straight road to the Judson Angel. Follow her gaze past the Seymours to the Woodworth Obelisk. Continue that direction past Uncle Swanfeldt and cross the road to stand by Willie McCoy. Look ahead and to the right for the small McClain Obelisk. Head in that direction, passing Isaac, Scylere, Major, Ida and Mama. Walk around to the hidden corner below you and follow the wall to Julius and Marie. Look deep under the leaves at the base of the bush.

I had A LOT of fun researching this box and doing the carving. I hope that you enjoy it! Take a few moments to remember someone you love as you stroll about and do some stamping.

Email me with the condition of my box at AljanSundance@gmail.com. Thanks!