We are all survivors. I read somewhere recently that 70,000 years ago there was a huge volcanic eruption which darkened the sky around the globe for several years wiping out entire species, and reducing the human population of the planet to a mere 1000 persons. Those thousand had some insight about surviving which enabled us to be born in this era. Maybe they made piles of jerky from the many dead critters — more of it than any casual person would have thought practical. But then, the sky stayed dark for several years, and creatures and the casual people perished. (Or maybe divine providence gave those elect mana from heaven. Who knows? Not me.)
But survive they did. And the local folks here in Merida have reverence for those who bore them. They seem to know that destiny has shined on them, allowing consciousness to continue here on Earth in their person. They celebrate their predecessors tenderly, contriving altars and provisioning them with foodstuffs and mementos, while burning incense to invite the spirits to the feast. It all seems very proper to me, who might just be a bit too casual about the gifts my ancestors have passed my way. A friend once observed that “gratitude is understanding.”
Altars can be seen around the city and in homes today, The Day of the Dead. And there will be a parade in their memory tonight. I’ve gathered that western aspects of Hallowe’en have begun to infiltrate with ghoulish deadness what has long been a living celebration. But the foundational sentiment is real and palpable and on display in plazas throughout the city today, inviting us to remember what has been done for us by our parents and grandparents.