The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico; el Día de los Muertos, where it is a very big deal indeed, with parades and rituals of all kind that paranormal romance lovers should shiver with delight over.
In particular, the Catrinas (both dolls and made-up women) that are a part of the celebrations are deliciously pretty and morbid.
The day originated in precolumbian history, however, the Day of the Dead is celebrated in many South American countries, and any country or area with a large Mexican population also tends to observe the day.
The Day of the Dead isn’t restricted just to the Americas. Several Christian churches, including Roman Catholics, Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox Church, also celebrate All Souls Day on November 2, and it is called The Day Of The Dead, too.
This is how I think of the day — although I love the festival and colour and pageantry of the Mexican edition, too. But The Day of the Dead plays a significant role in The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. There is a series of verses that describe the conflict and action of the fourth book in the five-book series, The Grey King.
On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the light shall have the harp of gold.
By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan’s Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.
When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon’s sword the Dark shall fall.
Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu,
ac y mae’r arglwyddes yn dod.
Just from the hints and images the verses conjure up, you can see why this book in particular is my favourite book. This is a childrens’ series — I discovered it when I was a mid-teen and fell heavily for it. However, I’ve read the series as an adult and The Grey King in particular is powerful — I still shed a tear or two in some of the scenes.
The series also cemented my obsession with all things Arthurian and Roman Britain, as well as booting my interest in the culture and history of Wales.
Pause on November 2 to remember those you’ve loved and lost.