Who’s That Lady?

Part of embracing your child’s culture of origin is welcoming in new holidays and traditions. If you have adopted or will be a adopting child(ren) from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or Nicaragua a holiday to consider is Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s largest. The holiday is also celebrated in other Central American countries and throughout the world.

One of the most widespread icons of Dia de los Muertos are calaveras (skulls) and calacas (handmade skeleton figures). The calacas are depicted in a festive, joyful manner, undertaking activities that the living do. They are typically made of wood, clay or paper-mache, or rendered in paintings or drawings. When traveling in Mexico and Guatemala I’ve seen bands of musicians, brides and grooms, people riding horses, and farmers. Calacas are at once fascinating and whimsical, and symbolize mortality and the cycle of life and death.

There is a calaca that always caught my eye though. Catrina, Lady of the Dead. Tall, elegant, and always beautifully dressed, she accompanied me home from Mexico one year. Resplendent in her flowing white polka-dotted red gown and replete with lovely ornamented hair, she looked as if she was waiting to dance.

Mexican cartoonist illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada was recognized for his calaveras. He created Catrina in 1910, and she is amongst the most famous of the well-known calacas. It is said that Posada acquired his inspiration from the Aztec goddess of the underworld, Mictecacihuatl. Catrina’s grinning skull symbolized “the joy of life in the face of its inevitable end.” Catrina’s image became linked with Dia de los Muertos. She appears in countless costumes, generally befitting the upper-class bearing Posad bestowed her with.

Join MLJ when we celebrate Dia de los Muertos on Sunday, October 28th from 2-5pm at our offices. Catrina will be present, dressed "to the nines."

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MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.