Dia de los Muertos Street Festival in Downtown Corpus Christi

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Painted faces as skulls were everywhere.
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Colorful handmade arts and crafts vendors were abundant.
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Tons of music, dance, food, art, and fun

 

Source:  http://diadelosmuertoscc.com/

Background – Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos (DDLM) or the Day of the Dead is a traditional holiday in Mexico when deceased friends and family members are remembered and celebrated. It is a poignant time, both solemn and joyous, with colorful artistic traditions, pageantry, and whimsy despite the sobering subject. Dia de los Muertos is a joyful remembrance in which death is recognized as a natural part of the cycle of life.

In the arts, everyday life is represented in skeletal form. A common symbol of Dia de los Muertos is the skull or “calavera” often represented in masks, candy, and other curios. Traditional activities include making sugar skulls decorated with brightly colored icing, papel picaco (cut paper banners) and paper mache’ masks and figures.  Some people believe possessing Day of the Dead items, like tattoos, dolls, sugar skulls or jewelry, can bring good luck.

Souls of the deceased return to visit loved ones on the days of October 31-November 2.  In preparation for the reunion, families create altars to honor the deceased with ofrendas (offerings) of yellow marigolds, memorabilia, photos, favorite foods, beverages and trinkets of the departed.  Religious and spiritual symbols, like the Christian Cross and Virgin Mary often adorn altars, as well.

Because it is a national holiday in Mexico, schools and government offices close, and the streets are decorated.  People, young and old alike, participate in the festivities: parades, dancing in the town square, and processions to the cemetery.  At the cemetery, the spirits are honored with music, dancing, poetry and stories.  Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as people recall funny events and stories about the departed.  In some areas of Mexico, they picnic or even sleep at the gravesite.

This celebration has gone on for centuries in Mexico.  By presenting the Dia de los Muertos festival and educational programming, we are providing an opportunity for people to learn about this rich cultural tradition of Mexico, to create a connection to our past, and to honor and celebrate the deceased.

Our DDLM Festival assists with cultural tourism by drawing artists, vendors, musicians, and festival-goers to Corpus Christi and to the downtown area.  To enhance our DDLM programming, K Space Contemporary has added cultural art workshops during the month of October and a fine art exhibition. During November, a thematically associated exhibition will be displayed in the main gallery, including the Extravagancia de Piñatas, a contest and exhibition of piñatas constructed by area K-12 schools (groups/art classes/art clubs).  These student groups compete for cash awards for classroom supplies.

The 7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival was held Saturday, November 1, 3 pm to midnight!  The festival is held in the 400-500 blocks of Starr and 500-700 blocks of Mesquite Streets in downtown Corpus Christi. Everyone is encouraged to wear a costume.  The event includes live music, Mariachis, Folklorico dancers, Hecho a Mano Art Expo, Kids’ Activities, community altar, food, drinks and more.  Texas A & M University Art Department’s “Hold Steady Iron Pouring Crew” will be on hand offering visitors a chance to create their own miniature iron sculpture while the Printmaking Department will be print customized t-shirts.  A community altar is located inside K Space Contemporary.

Many of  Corpus Christi’s favorite artists will be on hand selling their work and El Dia de los Muertos themed items.

The Hecho a Mano Art Expo features over 75 artists offering everything from jewelry to sculpture to all kinds of Dia de los Muertos related trinkets.  Those that are interested in being a vendor will find guidelines and registration information under “Vendor Information” on this website.

We are accepting sponsors and seeking volunteers.   Sponsorship information is available at http://www.diadelosmuertoscc.com.  Anyone interested in volunteering may call (361)887-6834.

Dia de los Muertos Street Festival is coordinated by the Electra Art*Axis Tattoo, K Space Contemporary, Corpus Christi Downtown Management District, and House of Rock. Proceeds from the event benefit K Space Contemporary, a 501 (C) 3 non-profit arts organization.

 

 P.S. I just had to buy 3 of Roel Palacio’s wonderful masks! They are just amazing!

Christmas: Padre Island Style

The folks on North Padre Island love to have fun and Christmas time is no exception!  Homes were decorated with dazzling lights and luminarias.  Docks and boats were menageries of floating color. Many homes were sporting Island-themed and religious Christmas displays. Not only do they love to have fun, but they also love to share the magic of Christmas with others.

Also this weekend kicks off the 39th annual La Posada Lighted Boat Parade where part-time Islanders and full-time Islanders watched the festivities dockside, ramp-side, and boat-side. This event is usually publicized in advance, so islanders take these days to host parties in their homes or on their decks both on and off the canals. During the two day procession, the boats wind through the canals on North Padre Island on a route, where certain boats stop by homes to pick up unwrapped toys. This parade is put on by the Padre Island Yacht Club and works in cooperation with the US Marines to raise donations for Toys for Tots. This event always raises the most donations every year to ensure a Merry Christmas for kids in need in South Texas.

The tradition of “La Posada” which means to lodge (posar) is rooted in Catholicism  and  according to Wikipedia, “is the reenactment of Mary and Joseph trying to find lodging at the inns before she gives birth to Jesus. The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lampshade [luminaria]. At each house, the resident responds by singing a song and Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the “innkeepers” let them in,  guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray (typically, the Rosary).”La Posadas are usually a nine day event representing the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. These processions originated in Spain, but have been celebrated in Mexico for over 400 years. They have also been celebrated in Guatamala, Philippines, and the states that border Mexico in the US.

The luminous lights on homes and boats help bring smiles to both young and old as well as help those in need. Also, the good news is that the weather cooperated perfectly with the temperature in the high 50’s F and light winds for the nights of the boat parade. With the weather behaving, this will ensure that this year will be one of the best yet.

This home has Santa surrounded by seagulls with a sign saying, " I told Santa not to feed those birds."
This home has Santa surrounded by seagulls with a sign saying, ” I told Santa not to feed those birds.”
Santa is fishing and wishing a "Merry Christmas, Ya'll."
Santa is fishing and wishing a “Merry Christmas, Ya’ll.”
This home has a very tan Santa piloting a boat on top, Peanuts on bottom, and a nativity canal-side.
This home has a very tan Santa piloting a boat on top, Peanuts on bottom, and a nativity canal-side.
Some random flamingos dressed up for Christmas.
Some random flamingos dressed up for Christmas.
A dock that dazzles.
A dock that dazzles.
A very luminous boat at the La Posada boat parade.
A very luminous boat at the La Posada boat parade.
More lit-up boats at La Posada on Padre Island.
More lit-up boats at La Posada on Padre Island.

Fall Colors of the Coastal Bend: Butterflies, Butterflies Everywhere!

While the rest of the country awaits the fall colors to emblazon the trees, we here in the Coastal Bend await the colors of another kind: the annual migration of butterflies. However, this year our skies have been completely dotted like a Seraut painting.

Our skies here in the Coastal Bend have been invaded by these flying flowers flitting and fluttering all over the place. There have been literally swarms of them for the last couple of weeks around the Coastal Bend. While in Beeville for The Texas Mile, last weekend, there were literally thousands of these fluttering jewels all flying all over the countryside. Unfortunately, many of these beauties lost their lives on the bumpers of the speeding vehicles and on the windshields of anyone’s car traveling on the roadways.

Poor mariposa
Poor mariposa

Additionally, all around Corpus Christi, swarms have been found speckling the skies. This year due to all the rain we have had this fall, the population has increased maybe several hundred-fold . The rains have given flowers a huge boost so the butterflies have had more food to make their journey to Mexico. Additionally, we have had a couple of “northers” which help sweep the mariposas down south of the border.

Monarchs on Salvia
Monarchs on a Salvia spike

According to www.learner.org , “The first monarchs usually arrive at their winter home in Mexico each fall by the first of November. Two events are taking place in Mexico when the monarchs appear. One is a seasonal event and the other a cultural event and people connect the arrival of the monarchs with these events:”

Seasonal Event
Monarchs and Corn   Harvest
“People in the region have noticed the arrival of monarchs since pre-Hispanic   times. In the language of the native Purépecha Indians, the monarch   butterfly is called the harvester butterfly,   because monarchs appear when it’s time to harvest the corn. “

    

Cultural Event
Monarchs and the   Day of the Dead
“The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) also occurs   when the monarchs appear. According to traditional belief, the monarchs are   the souls of ancestors who are returning to Earth for their annual visit.”
 

In the Coastal Bend, Corpus Christi have long been known as the “Birdiest City” of America because of the migrations into Mexico; however, maybe we should also consider the title of “Butterfly-est City” .  Usually we have the Monarch migration during September into October, but other species of butterflies move through this area way into November.

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Boldly bright orange butterfly

So, yep, we here in the Coastal Bend may have a chinaberry tree or two that turns into the fiery colors of fall, which is about it. However, we can look to the skies and enjoy the live colors making their journey to the warm climate in Mexico.

Another South Texas Legend- El Chupacabra

In our part of the country, there are copious amounts of spooky stories, many which are passed down from generation to generation until they become legend.  This week I am discussing a couple of spooky ladies and other crazy lore of South Texas just in time for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos ( Day of the Dead).

Photo courtesy of http://a.abcnews.com/im
Photo courtesy of http://a.abcnews.com/

On a dusty, old ranch in South Texas, as the sun sinks slowly to the west, a seasoned rancher calls it a day.  As he gets ready to head back to the house, he takes a last glimpse of his livestock. The horses are in the stalls for the night, the chickens are in their coops, and the goats are in their pens.  On that starry evening after the rancher hangs his hat for the night, what should be lurking in the shadows of scruffy brush land, but a strange reptilian-canine creature choosing his evening meal.

At daybreak the rancher puts on his hat and heads back out to the pens. What he finds in the lurid morning light is outright devastation. He witnesses that his goats and chickens are all shriveled carcasses sucked dry as if from a vampire. What could have done this? The rancher has seen many strange things happen to his animals over the years, but nothing quite like this.  The rancher shakes his head and mumbles quietly, “¿qué pasó?”

The following is an excerpt from “Legend of the Chupacabra” in Informationanantonio.com:

“The story has many roots and tales from Central and South America, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Gulf of Mexico regions. The animal is unknown to published works of science or wildlife and has enjoyed a scary reputation in south Texas and San Antonio. Some area residents who claim to have seen the Chupacabra say it is more of a hairless doglike creature with large fangs and teeth. The Chupacabra gives off a smell similar to that of sulfur that remains long after the creature has left the area.”

“Accounts of Chupacabra sightings range from farmers and ranchers to deer hunters that have spotted the monster out of their deer blind while hunting. Looking through binoculars, one hunter described the scary Chupacabra as about three feet tall with black eyes, kangaroo like legs and little to no hair. The creature had huge fangs that resembled a werewolf and walked awkwardly with its head slumped forward like a hunchback. The hunter watched the Chupacabra through binoculars for some time and said he was too petrified to move or pick up his gun. After a few minutes the creature discovered the hunter watching and curiously walked slowly toward the deer blind. After stopping and staring eerily and angrily at the hunter, the Chupacabra turned and quickly disappeared into the brush. The hunter said he wouldn’t even get out of his blind until his hunting buddies picked him up in the ranch truck. He of course had a hard time getting anybody to believe him with such an outlandish monster story when he should have had a hunting story. However, all of the hunters in the truck did smell the distinct odor of sulfur as the drove past where the Chupacabra had first come into view earlier that afternoon. The hunter that had the Chupacabra sighting packed up his thing and left that night never to return to that particular deer lease and says he’ll never hunt alone as long as he lives.”

“The Chupacabra is supposedly responsible for mutilation of cattle and goats throughout the south Texas region. Some believe that cults are responsible for the mutilations while others seem to think it’s some kind of rare disease that attacks small herds of goats and cows. One thing remains for sure, those that claim to have seen the Chupacabra don’t back down from their scary experiences and present them as true stories. Whatever it is, I don’t think the Chupacabra is something I’d like to ever come in contact with.”

Whether it is a goatsucker, vampire, alien, or whatever, it makes for a scary tale during this spooky Halloween – Dia de los Muertos season.

More Legends of South Texas- La Llorona

In our part of the country, there are copious amounts of spooky stories, many which are passed down from generation to generation until they become legend.  This week I am discussing a couple of spooky ladies and other crazy lore of South Texas just in time for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos ( Day of the Dead).

 Photo courtesy of http://blogs.educared.org/

Photo courtesy of http://blogs.educared.org/

It is a dark and still evening in South Texas, with maybe an occasional hoot of an owl, and a panicked mother can be found ushering her children indoors for fear of La Llorona. “Hurry mijo come inside before La Llorana thinks you belong to her.” Suddenly, a painful grief-stricken cry breaks the stillness of the night and rebounds through the rugged oaks down by the river…

Many children of South Texas and into Mexico grew up knowing La Llorona as a grieving ghost mother who haunts areas around lakes, rivers, or any bodies of water looking for her children whom she drowned. Generations of parents tell this tale to warn their children to not be out late at night, especially alone.

Although multiple variations exist, the basic story tells of a beautiful woman named Maria who comes from a humble background. One day she meets the man of her dreams who is passing through her village. She was such a beauty that the stranger is smitten and falls in love with her. The man she loves comes from a highborn family who would never accept such a peasant as a bride to their son. The couple has a torrid affair, and Maria has a couple of children.

Life goes on and routine sets in. Soon her beloved loses interest, and he looks to return back to his prior life and later falls for another woman just as beautiful. Maria witnesses her former lover kissing the other beautiful lady.  Maria tries to win her love back, but soon her jealousy turns to anger onto her children. Devastated, Maria drowns them in order to try to be with the man that she loved.

The man she loves would not have her, and she would not take no for an answer. So she drowned herself in a nearby river. \

When questioned as to the whereabouts of her children, she is not permitted to enter the gates of Heaven until she has found them. Maria is a lost soul searching in vain for her drowned offspring, with her constant weeping and wailing giving her the name “La Llorona.”

Even today the story of La Llorona is one that is familiar to many folks in the Coastal Bend. Occasionally on a dark and still night, it even results in sightings of a ghostly, female figure who weeps in the night searching for her children.

So parents, you can choose to do what generations have done here in the Coastal Bend and tell your kids, “In order to be safe, be sure to be inside by dark because La Llorona may mistake you as one of her own.” Hey, if it works…

La Lechuza – A Legend of South Texas

La Lechuza
La Lechuza: Photo courtesy of carmenbarbero.com

In our part of the country, there are copious amounts of spooky stories, many which are passed down from generation to generation until they become legend.  This week I am discussing a couple of spooky ladies and other crazy lore of South Texas just in time for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos ( Day of the Dead).

During a still night under a full moon in South Texas, things can get a bit wild and weird…

and it is not just because it is the Halloween and Dia de los Muertos time of year

.Deer begin foraging, coyotes are howling, and owls are hooting and hunting.

However, many folks along the Coastal Bend and into the Rio Grande Valley believe some owls are more than meet the eye.

Since the days when Texas was Mexico, generations of children in South Texas and into Mexico have grown up hearing stories of lechuzas. What exactly is a lechuza? Lechuzas are witches (brujas) who morph into birds. In most stories, the bird is an owl. Other stories say that lechuzas are just spirits of betrayed or jilted women who want to seek revenge. Some other stories say she is a bird spirit who appears from beyond the grave and wants to avenge whoever killed her.

The legend of La Lechuza remains very popular in South Texas and Mexico. She can appear at any time. According to demonhunterscompendium.blogspot.com,  “She particularly enjoys attacking people who have had one too many beers. Many people believe in her existence, while others claim to have actually seen this creature. The legends seem to vary quite a bit. In some, she is a vengeful spirit. In others, she is a woman that has sold her soul to the Devil in order to gain supernatural powers. Every night, she is said to transform into a five to six-foot tall bird (most commonly an owl) with the face of a beautiful or wizened old woman and enormous wings.”Sometimes she will lure out her prey with strange noises such as a baby crying. Soon she will swoop down on the poor unsuspecting person and carry them off as prey.
People who have had these frightful encounters with a lechuza usually can try a couple of remedies. Some people will pray while others will seek a folk healer (curandera), and still others will blast the bird away with a rifle or shotgun.

Even though many of the stories differ, one thing that people seem to agree on is that an encounter is definitely very scary and you will always remember.

So the next time you are in South Texas going down a rural road at night, be wary not for only deer, coyote, and other wildlife that may be on the road, but also keep an eye out for some wild and weird owls.