Old age and even more so death seem to be quite high on the taboo list of many Western societies. Somehow I have the feeling that many people assume that by simply never touching the subject they will never grow old or never die. Hmm. These people might be in for a surprise.
Then there are societies where such topics are not taboo, but part of life. The “Day of the Dead” in Mexico is one example. The whole family goes out to the cemetery, they clean the grave site of dead relatives, put up candles and flowers and have a picnic. Yes, the kids are there, too. They learn very early on that life and death are interwoven in an endless circle.
Another tradition is the building of private altars for the deceased in the family. These installations are very colorful and incorporate photos of the family members to be so honored, flowers, their favorite foods and skulls made of sugar.
This tradition has evolved into a form of art. At a local art gallery today we saw several of those altars; the most impressive one was this one:
Another quite striking modern interpretation was this installation:
Even the simple skulls made of sugar have evolved into something much more elaborate, like beautifully fashioned cakes, much too pretty to eat:
Lots of children were running around at the art gallery, having fun and munching little sugar skulls. One hopes so much that they will grow up with a healthy understanding that old age and death are part of life for all of us.