Pure dead bril­liant: Scot­land set to have its very own Day of the Deid

Sunday Herald - - NEWS - BY KARIN GOOD­WIN

IT is one of the best know fes­ti­vals in the world. The Mex­i­can Day of the Dead has be­come an iconic fes­ti­val of re­mem­brance known around the planet for its vivid “skull art”. Now it seems like Scot­land could be on its way to in­sti­tut­ing its own “Day of the Deid”.

Char­i­ties and be­reave­ment coun­sel­lors say Scot­land needs to adopt a health­ier at­ti­tude to loss and mor­tal­ity, and a Celtic ver­sion of the Mex­i­can Day of the Dead, full of colour, cel­e­bra­tion, mu­sic and fun, is the way to do it.

One group call­ing for a new Scot­tish Day of the Dead are the or­gan­is­ers of the Ab­sent Friends fes­ti­val, which pro­motes events from street par­ties to rem­i­nis­cence sup­pers in or­der to en­cour­age peo­ple to re­mem­ber and cel­e­brate the lives of loved ones who have passed away.

Their call has been backed by those work­ing with the be­reaved who claim that it is time for Scot­land to throw off its stiff up­per lip at­ti­tude to death.

Sug­ges­tions in­clude a Scot­tish ver­sion of the an­cient Dia De Los Muer­tos (Day of the Dead), which sees peo­ple in many coun­tries – most no­tably Mex­ico – mark All Souls Day by cel­e­brat­ing for two days from Novem­ber 1. Cel­e­bra­tions are char­ac­terised by colour­ful street par­ties and pro­ces­sions with mu­sic.

Lo­cal ceme­ter­ies are be dec­o­rated with can­dles, lights and art works, and lo­cal streets with bunt­ing cel­e­brat­ing lost loved ones.

Robert Pea­cock, devel­op­ment man­ager of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief – the char­ity which co-or­di­nates the Ab­sent Friends fes­ti­val from Novem­ber 1-7 – said the idea was to tap back into the Celtic tra­di­tions of All Souls Day and Hal­loween to cre­ate a Scot­tish ver­sion of the Mex­i­can hol­i­day, which sees fam­ily mem­bers tidy­ing and dec­o­rat­ing graves with marigolds, or­nate su­gar skulls, photos, and food and drink, as well as pre­par­ing spe­cial meals and host­ing re­mem­brance par­ties. “The Bri­tish re­sponse to death is a stiff up­per lip one,” he said. “The tra­di­tions of the Day of the Dead make it a more so­cial thing. The fes­ti­val is a time for colours and for cel­e­bra­tion of some­one’s life.

“That was present in Celtic tra­di­tions and is still more ap­par­ent in the Ir­ish wake, but many of those tra­di­tions are gone.”

Ste­wart Wil­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Cruse Be­reave­ment Care, said: “There’s a huge ten­dency not to talk about peo­ple who have died. We have a dis­com­fort with death and dy­ing and we are of­ten un­com­fort­able with other peo­ple’s distress. Yet it is a uni­ver­sal ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We might chose to get mar­ried or have chil­dren or not but al­most all of us will be be­reaved at least once.”

Kate Clark of Scot­land-wide or­gan­i­sa­tion Push­ing Up The Daisies,

By bring­ing peo­ple to­gether it helps us re­alise death is a com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence we all share

which sup­ports peo­ple to look af­ter their loved ones at home be­tween their death and their funeral, said a Scot­tish Day of the Dead could help make death more vis­i­ble and re­duce feel­ings of iso­la­tion ex­pe­ri­enced by those left be­hind.

“Be­cause we don’t talk about death, peo­ple are hav­ing to deal with it alone,” she said.

“By bring­ing peo­ple to­gether it helps us re­alise death is a com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence we all share. By mak­ing an an­nual tra­di­tion we can get in the habit of hon­our­ing our dead.”

Clark con­tin­ued: “Don’t we all want to be re­mem­bered when we are gone? Cel­e­bra­tion, rather than fear, is a great way to bring old tra­di­tion to the present day.”

Many coun­tries, es­pe­cially Mex­ico, cel­e­brate All Souls Day by cel­e­brat­ing for two days from Novem­ber 1 Pho­to­graphs by Chris Jack­son/Getty Images and AP Photo/Ro­drigo Abd

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