Syncretism seems to be Mexico's story. Tomorrow and Thursday, the country celebrates Día de los Muertos, a perfect example of the meld between Christian and indigenous holidays. And driving up and back from Cahuacán on Sunday, a little more melding was seen. Small groups of children stood at bends in the road with jack-o-lantern carved green pumpkins in their hands, small candles inside shedding light on the road. They were pidiendo calaverita, literally asking for the little skull, shouting at passing cars to see if a few coins might be handed their way. Some say the tradition dates back a long time, with children asking for money to buy sugar skulls for their family ofrenda, or in most cases, to eat.
But Patricio doesn't buy into that much. Perhaps it has been a long-time tradition in other places, but he didn't see it happen until well into junior high. And now, with many kids dressing up in costume, toting the plastic orange pumpkins for candy or loose change, it's clear that Halloween now plays a large part in this time of year. Some feel it's a slow tragedy. Perhaps any syncretism is. But Día de los Muertos is still celebrated in the home, a mix of one tradition imposed on another long ago.
It's happening, and it's inexorable. And I admit the commercialism is, indeed, a little gross. But the best part of syncretism, as far as I can tell, is the chance to twist the best of both things when bringing the two slowly together. What American kid wouldn't love to start trick-or-treating on, say, October 27th? A whole lot of young ones do here. Extending on into November 1st and 2nd, it's a week-long event full of dreams.
It's Mexico's story, continued.