Day of the Dead at Dartmouth
If you are into All Hallows Eve, I have a few suggestions on how to extend this spooky, ghost-filled week. My Halloween at work this year included sightings of Dartmouth students dressed in fun costumes, and a treat for me, a guided walk through the College cemetery. Anyone can stroll through and look at the gravestones, many quite old. The founder of Dartmouth College, Eleazor Wheelock and his wife are buried there, along with many townspeople from Hanover and other familiar names like Hitchcock. There is even a gravestone of a female slave, much beloved in the community. The cemetery borders the back of several buildings but the easiest entrance is just behind North Fairbanks, which is close to Collis and 53 Commons.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead is an opportunity to honor those who have passed and, though originally a Mexican holiday, is now prevalent in the United States and other countries as well. For several years now, I have enjoyed seeing a colorful display commemorating family members who are associated with Dartmouth students. Growing up in the West, I definitely remember seeing the special skull pastries and paper flowers and altars in unexpected places. If you are interested in seeing this display, make sure to visit the Baker Berry Library before noon on Friday. Walk through the central main doors, continue straight ahead and make a sharp left. The exhibit is on your left across from the entrance to the King Arthur Café.
Many in my circle know of my affinity for this holiday. I like the idea of taking the time to set up a tribute to those who passed each year. My brother gave me these trays several years ago, which were too unique to use, I opted to hang them. A beloved cousin sent me a table runner recently, which inspired me for the first time, to create my own altar, in memory of my mother, who passed earlier this year, and my beloved father, who has been gone for ten years. I am sure that my offerings are far from traditional, but some of what I read about this holiday is that you put things out that you associate with them.
The Swedish carvings are all Mom, though my dad definitely appreciated them too. The swordfish was caught by my father in December of 1957, and it is inscribed and inlaid with abalone. I feel honored to have his dog tags from WWII. The bowl is one he brought back from Japan in one of his travels many years ago. This being a weeknight, I opted to put some of their favorite candy in the bowl, along with their libation of choice-my mother made a mean Manhattan! If I had time to truly honor them, I would be making their favorite dishes and sharing them with family and friends, perhaps next year.
Halloween was always a special time in our family. My mother’s birthday was on the 15th, and both of my uncles, my mother’s brother, and father’s brother, were born on Halloween. One of the biggest benefits, in my mind, of living in such a diverse country as America, is we can celebrate, and borrow each other’s traditions, and enrich our own lives a little more. I encourage you to explore this tradition for yourself.