It looks like I forgot to click “publish” yesterday, so my blog post never appeared. With apologies for doubling up, I need to complete the trilogy today. So here goes…
Unlike All Saints Day, which, we were told, was a day of obligation, All Souls Day, today, was not. It was kind of a leftovers day. Ironically, it developed into Día de Muertos—the Day of the Dead—along with Halloween and All Saints. Yes, there are many who declare, and rightly so, that Día de Muertos is something different. It is and it isn’t. Cultures around the world have always felt that at this point in the year something odd was going on. The carnal summer was becoming the spiritual autumn. Thoughts of those who’d died come back. So it is a three-day celebration—not officially recognized in the United States (it would interfere with business, which is, as we all know, a thing not to be imagined)—has become a commercial boon.
Still, not being among the saints, I have to wonder if the leftovers—All Souls—are somehow second-class citizens in the afterlife. Does the social stratification we experience daily here carryover to there? The view of Heaven among the poor is generally one of comfort and equality. Fairness, which is in very short supply down here, will finally see the end of the moral arc of the universe, to borrow from a departed sage, bend toward justice. And sharply. The idea is ancient and powerful. Primates of other species don’t object to having leaders. They do, however, reject leaders who abuse power. And so it is that we’ve evolved beyond that. Civilization teaches us our place.
The Day of the Dead has become commercial, along with Halloween. Why not stretch out the profits, which, after all, come from the leftovers? There is a capitalist vision of Heaven, you see, and it is one we see working out on earth these days. Those with money take power and use their money to buy more power that in turn leads to more money for them. We call it “making a living.” Those who are wise, however, recognize something deeper in Día de Muertos. It is the time when we welcome family home, indeed, when family becomes more important than job, or status, or power. It is a very human, if supernatural, holiday. All Souls, it seems, has received less than its fair share of attention. The Day of the Dead, in its own way, warms up those leftovers.