Street festivals are a feast for the senses. Since no cars are allowed, people can wander the entire breadth of the road for blocks on end without worrying about traffic. Local vendors bring their wares to the curb side as restaurant owners fire up their outdoor grills and set out tables and chairs where cars usually park. Sights of festive decorations, the sounds of music, and aromas of sizzling food all vie for your attention.
Strolling along this festive corridor, I came across a shop filled with Latin American art. The bright colors drew my attention and as I came closer, I noticed whimsical little figurines posed playfully in celebration. To my surprise, the characters were actually skeletons, grinning from ear to ear and living up life as we know it.
There were brides and grooms, flamenco dancers and musicians, all dressed in beautiful elaborate costumes. Each wore an ornate hat, from giant sombreros for the gentlemen skeletons to colorful wide-brimmed summer hats, lavishly decorated with feathers and flora for the women-skeletons. How elegant they looked, even with their big hollow eyes and make-up free cheekbones!
A sign posted nearby summed it up perfectly: “Celebrating life through the mockery of death.” Here is a culture that honors the passing of loved ones through celebration. A stark contrast to western culture, which typically avoids the subject. Regardless which cultural standpoint you take, we can all learn a lot from other cultures. The next time you find yourself strolling down a street, be curious about what draws your attention and stay open to the experience!