The Day of the Dead in Mexico is actually several days. It starts on the evening of October 27th and ends on November 3rd. The history and traditions date back before the Aztecs. According Bernardino de Sahagun, the Aztecs celebrated the dead from June 2nd through August 20th.
Many people around Vallejo are now familiar with Las Catrinas of Solano AIDS Coalition. Most people do not know the history of La Catrina. One of the most familiar symbol of Dia De Los Muertos are the calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls).. The origins of La Catrina dates back to 2500 BC. Adapted in the 1200s AD by the Aztecs. During the original festivals of the dead, the 9th Aztec month was dedicated to Miccailhuitontli. These festivities were directed by the goddess “Mictecacíhuatl” known as the “Lady of Death” (related today with “La Catrina” by José Guadalupe Posada) and was the wife of “Mictlantecuhtli”, Lord of the land of the dead “Mictlan”. The celebrations were dedicated especially for children and the lives of deceased relatives. The most famous “La Catrina” was created by Jose Guadalupe Posada. One of his last engravings was the world renowned Calavera Garbancera (“Garbancera” to all those people who have indigenous blood, but pretended to be European, forgetting and not wanting to be part of their roots and their culture) later to be known as “Calavera Catrina (The Catrina Skull)”. The concept of La Catrina originated during the Porfiriato, between 1876 and 1910, when Porfirio Diaz was President of Mexico, as a criticism of the elite class in Mexico. Posada wanted to create a skeleton dressed extravagantly and elegantly to metaphorically represent the Mexican women of the upper class during the Porfiriato (before Mexico’s revolution).. Some time later it became the official symbol of Death. Posada said that “death is democratic. because at the end of our lives , blonde or brunette, rich or poor everyone ends up as a skeleton”.
Mario Saucedo of Solano AIDS Coalition creates Catrinas dresses to help get the word out of all he does in the community. Helping those and the family affected by HIV/AIDS and STD s. He is also involved in many other activities such as Vallejo’s biggest Christmas toy give-away.
Written by Jaime Esparza