Did you know that Dia de Los Muertos is nearly here? The unique Mexican holiday is known as Day of the Dead in English and is held on November 2nd each year. Dia de Muertos allows people a chance to pay their respects to friends and family members who have passed on before us. Calaveritas literarias were first published in Mexico in the 1850’s as mock epitaphs written to poke fun at members of high society. These days, they are associated with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and are often written from the point of view of La Catrina. Calaveras literarias are popular poems that tend to make fun of friends, politicians, and artists. Literary Catrinas tend to deal with themes surrounding everyday life and are always humorous. Read more below about Dia de Los Muertos Literary Catrinas, another interesting part of Mexico’s rich culture.
Dia de Los Muertos Literary Catrinas
Though the literal meaning of the word is “skull,” Literary Calaveras are poems designed to poke fun at people as if they were already dead written from the point of view of La Catrina. La Catrina is an elegant skeleton lady that is an emblem for Mexico’s Day of the Dead. First drawn by Mexican lithographer José Guadalupe Posada in the early twentieth century, she became a beloved symbol of Mexican culture after Diego Rivera included her in his famous painting called Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park). Usually written on the eve of the Day of the Dead which occurs each year on November 2nd, literary Catrinas are another important tradition in Mexican culture. The poems are typically funny and ironic with rhymed verses that “make fun” of death.
Origins of Literary Catrinas
Some people believe that calaveras were originally inspired by Danse Macabre. Danse Macabre were allegorical plays held in medieval Europe that addressed the topic of Death. Later, illustrated poems known as literary catrinas emerged in Colonial Mexico that subtly poked fun at people in charge such as government officials and politicians. Later, they became more popular during the Mexican Revolution in the 19th century when literary catrinas were used as a critical expression of the people against the Porfirian elite. The first documented evidence of literary skulls was found in 1849 in the “El Socialista” newspaper that was published by Italian doctor José Indelicato in Guadalajara, Jalisco. The common theme of the poems is that they are singled out for imagined selection by the Grim Reaper or La Catrina. The short verses use dark humor, inside jokes, double entendre, and various Spanish euphemisms about death.
Day of the Dead Literary Skulls
Literary Catrinasor skulls are just one of many factors that are associated with Day of the Dead festivities. The literary skulls are rhythmic verses of varied rhyme whose main topic is death. However, the primary focus of the rhyme is to make a parody of people, political topics, or cultural events, too. The characteristics that are generally appreciated in the lyrical creations tend to be wit, irony, subtlety, caricature, rhyme and musicality. By making light of a serious subject, Mexican people are able to remove the fear that is usually associated with death. The literary skull uses humor to overcome the tragedy and fear surrounding dying.
Dia de Los Muertos Altars
In addition to Literary Catrinas, Dia de Los Muertos events involve visiting grave sites of deceased family members and friends to honor their life. In addition, altars, or ofrendas in Spanish, are constructed to pay homage to those who have passed on before us. Altars typically include framed photos of the deceased, beautiful marigold flowers, candles, and favorite foods and drinks, too. If you visit Mexico during October or early November, you will find many altars, or ofrendas, in homes, businesses, and resorts. If you plan to visit Villa La Estancia in Riviera Nayarit, make sure to head down to Puerto Vallarta to check out the Malecon. Each year, Dia de Los Muertos altars are constructed by local organizations and a competition is held to determine which altar is the best.
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