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Death and Dying: Mexican Culture

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by Alan Godoy on 3 December 2012

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Transcript of Death and Dying: Mexican Culture

Due to the Mexican culture's close correlation with Catholicism, most funeral masses follow the traditions of a catholic funeral

Funeral is usually held at the local church as part of a Mass.

Body is positioned close to the sanctuary

Prayers and psalms are made, usually lead by the priest.
Can include accompaniments by Mariachi

Mass is concluded with the coffin sprinkled with holy water and incense. Funeral Mass Mexicans do believe in the religious concept of an afterlife
Same aspect that Catholics view afterlife and the immortality of the soul.

The concepts of Hell and Heaven are the same in Mexican religious ideas as in Catholic teachings
Hell being the burning condemnation and everlasting torment for ones sins on earth

Whereas heaven is basically paradise where the good continue to live in everlasting happiness Afterlife Stemming from its pre-Columbian civilizations and Catholic traditions death is seen as a part of life in Mexico. That said, most Mexicans have the belief that the funeral is an important part of life.

Funeral arrangements are made as soon as loved one is deceased.

Services are heavily attended and lead by Catholic priests who honor the recently departed.
In rural communities, the wake is usually held at the family's home, where loved ones, close friends, and extended family comes to gather, pray, express sympathies and reinforce the bonds that tie these groups together.

In rural areas, the coffin is placed on a table or stand under burning candles and herbs.

In an urban setting, the viewing will likely be held in a mortuary. The wake is followed by a church ceremony. Funeral Customs La Santa Muerte Modern culture largely due in part to the Spanish control of Mexico which lasted from around 1519, to September 16, 1810.

During this time the indigenous population fell by more than half due to diseases and war at the hand of the Spaniards.

The remaining population consisted of the offspring between the Spanish and the Indigenous population leading to the now more prominent population of Mestizos.

Due to its long history with Spain, Mexico is predominantly Spanish speaking

It’s main religion is Catholicism.
However there is a growing population that consider themselves part of the “Santa Muerte Religion” - While at the same time claiming to be Catholics. Mexico Quick History Alan F. Godoy, Patrick Turbett
HED 115: Death And Dying
Professor: D. Williams November 26, 2012 Mexican Culture and Beliefs
Regarding Death For a long time the topic of what occurs with the bodies after death has had only one answer which was to bury the bodies.
Cremation was not a request by many people as the body was considered by many to be, as it is in the catholic tradition, the resting place of the Holy Spirit while someone is on earth. Thus even in death many did not want to disturb the body

However as times change so to do customs

The Catholic Church now allows cremation so long that the reasons for it do not go against Christian teaching

However it still strongly encourages burying the bodies of the dead. What to do with the Bodies? Mexicans place a high importance on the concept of family. Outside of Major cosmopolitan cities families are still generally large

Extended family is as important as the nuclear family

When death is about to occur there is usually a person with the ill until the end to make sure that they do not die alone.
Because of the culture's value of family, it is very important to the dying as well as the family members that they have someone with them till the end. Family in Death Procession usually leads from the Mass to the cemetery

Rural Processions are usually on foot
Usually to the sound of a band, or mariachi playing along

At the grave site the Priest usually opens for any last words from the family, or leads a small prayer

Relatives of the deceased usually throw a handful of dirt on the coffin before the grave is filled

Interment Death and Dying hold a unique place in the Mexican culture. Since the earliest stages of Mexican culture they have embraced death as a part of life. The Mayans and Aztecs were both warriors who practiced human sacrifice, which shows a casual acceptance of death. Combine this ancient belief with the Catholicism that missionaries brought to their country and funeral attendees will see a relaxed, yet deeply religious regard for death. Culture Of Death Strong Emotions which are encouraged

Acceptance of Death, even by children

Final ceremony to be held at the final resting spot ( burial site)

Nine days worth of candles at church after the ceremony

Lots of goodbye's to the one who has past What to Expect at a Funeral Day Of The Dead This acceptance of death has defined some modern Mexican rituals, such as "The Day of the Dead", a celebration that honors those who are deceased. In celebration, many Mexicans decorate with skeletons, dance and play instruments. Although other cultures may regard this as irreverent, it is not meant to trivialize the loss of a loved one, but rather affirm their belief in an afterlife and ease grief. Days of the Dead is a week-long holiday when the souls of the dead return to be with their families for one night. That night is November 1 and the early morning of November 2.

Like so many other elements of Mexico's culture, this holiday is a mixture of Prehispanic and Christian religious ideas. In the Catholic religious calendar these are All Souls' Day and All Saints' Day and in Europe they were set aside for remembrance of departed family members.

Certain indigenous peoples, such as the Aztecs also had religious rites having to do with death and the return of spirits to this world. Many of these were bloody, demanding human sacrifice. But the victims spirits lived on and their bones were said to be like seeds of corn from which would spring renewed life. The blood, like the heavenly rains, watered the parched earth. Although all the ancient rituals have disappeared, some of their spirit threads through the ages down to the present.

Today it consists of a celebration where families of the deceased go to cemeteries and decorate the graves as well as make offerings or "Ofrendas, " to the deceased Ofrenda Decorated Graves Death in Art Casualty of Drug Cartel Violence Ofrendas are set up in peoples homes to honor the spirit of someone dear who has recently died.

It is loaded with items that the person loved in life, which can include realistically anything from food to photographs and weapons to candy. In the celebration, the graves of loved ones are spruced up and cleaned to help appease the departed. Occult figure venerated by some in Mexico

Said to be very powerful and able to grant favors

Fusion between Mesoamerican and Catholic Beliefs

Large following in Major Criminal Organizations

Cult more closely resembles practices of Voodoo and Santeria even though rites are very similar to those of Catholicism Speaking about Bodies: Cemeteries There is usually no difference in the treatment of the dead in terms of differences in gender or age.
However one can see a difference in terms of wealth and status Mausoleum Of a Wealthy Family Tomb Of A Regular Person Cemetery Walk Through Last Rights: About to Die When someone is known to be on their death bed, preparations begin

As with many Catholics, when someone is close to death there is the communion of last rights.

Last rights include anointing of the sick, hearing the confession of the dying, absolution, prayers, Communion and a blessing The Wake In Mexican culture a wake is a very social event, it gathers the family and acquaintances of the deceased and for the most part is a time to remember the good times.

Prayers are a key aspect as well at wakes
The most common prayer is known as the "Novena por los difuntos"
Usually it is when a Rosary is said for 9 days following the death of a loved one Family after Death:

Following the burial there is usually another gathering
or reception where the family comes together again to eat, laugh and comfort those that need it, as well as remembering the one who is now gong on to the afterlife. Works Cited "9 Day Novena for Dead People or Novena De Difuntos." 9 Day Novena for Dead People or Novena De Difuntos. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.hispanic-culture-online.com/9-day-novena-for-dead.html>.

"Catholic Update ©1997 - Cremation: New Options for Catholics by Fran Helner." Catholic Update ©1997. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.americancatholic.org/newsletters/cu/ac1097.asp>.

Cuevas De Caissie, Rebecca M. "Hispanic Traditions Funerals and Death." - Hispanic Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art40851.asp>.

"Day of the Dead Facts." Interesting Day of the Dead Facts and Other Day of the Dead Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.celebrate-day-of-the-dead.com/day-of-the-dead-facts.html>.

"Days Of The Dead." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.pbs.org/foodancestors/cult.html>.

"Death and Dying." Aztec Religion. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.deathreference.com/A-Bi/Aztec-Religion.html>.

"The Death Cult of the Drug Lords Mexicoâs Patron Saint of Crime, Criminals, and the Dispossessed." The Death Cult of the Drug Lords Mexicoâs Patron Saint of Crime, Criminals, and the Dispossessed. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/Santa-Muerte/santa-muerte.htm>.

"History of Mexico." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Mexico>.

"Kearl's Guide to the Sociology of Death: Death Across Time AndSpace." Kearl's Guide to the Sociology of Death: Death Across Time AndSpace. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.trinity.edu/mkearl/death-1.html>.

"Mexican American Funeral Customs." Funeralwise. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.funeralwise.com/customs/mex_american>.

"Mexicoâs Monarchs Return for the Day of the Dead." Mexico's Monarchs Return for the Day of the Dead. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://goodnature.nathab.com/mexicos-monarchs-return-for-the-day-of-the-dead/>. Final Thought Although the concept of Death is embraced in the Mexican Culture, it is important for them to say goodbye to loved ones with elaborate funerals and long periods of mourning
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