By Angel Nuñez
The month of November is especially dedicated to our beloved deceased and there are many ceremonial celebrations that go along with that culture brought to The Americas by the Christian Spaniards, who were out to conquer the whole world and to spread Christianity. Los Finados is one of those celebrations that takes place on November 1 and 2.
For that day an altar was set up in the home and photos of the deceased were placed amidst candles and statues of saints. Plates of food were also placed as offerings on the altar, and if the beloved deceased liked his drinks, then a shot of rum was also placed on the altar. If he was a smoker, then some cigarettes were also part of the altar. Typically you would find food like tamales, relleno negro, chirmole, escabeche, horchata, coffee or tea.
At midday the family would gather to offer prayers for the repose of the souls of the dead. After the prayers, the food would be shared and even sent to those family members who could not make it to the prayers. How can I forget the “Finados” dinner prepared by my fraternal grandmother Regina Nuñez. She had nine children, all with families and her Finados dinner was like half a drum of relleno.
By late afternoon family members would visit the cemetery to light candles, refresh the tomb with flowers and offer some more prayers. Customarily there would be several dozens of families at the cemetery which would be bustling with activity, children running about admiring the tombs, men doing some cleaning and the women placing flowers on the tombs. It was a family solemn party at the cemetery which would be as busy as the town’s square for that day.
What you have learned about Finados and the Day of The Dead or Day of the Souls, was practically the same on November 1 when the focus would be on deceased babies and infants. November 2 was dedicated to the adults. This gave commencement to “El Mes de Las Animas” or the Month of the Souls. This, of course, will be our topic for next week when we shall look at the many traditions, and folk stories associated with the souls of our beloved deceased. Get ready for some scary stuff.
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