Sunday, October 29, 2017

Contest winners, and happy Day of the Dead!

Thanks to everybody who entered the Rafflecopter for Maggie at Moonrise. We'll get to the announcement of the winners in a minute, but first I wanted to talk about what inspired me to include so many Day of the Dead-themed prizes. I mean, of course it's coming up this week, and Maggie does go to Mexico in this book. But I really like the spirit (pun possibly intended) behind the holiday.

That noted reference work, Wikipedia, says Día de los Muertos -- or more properly, Día de Muertos -- originates in an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. Then it began in early August and lasted an entire month. But it was strictly a central and southern Mexican thing for hundreds of years. Día de los Muertos wasn't celebrated at all in northern Mexico until the 20th century, as Native cultures there had different traditions. Since the Mexican government made it a national holiday in the 1960s, though, it has spread throughout the country and around the world. It's even on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Today, the Day of the Dead is a three-day festival, wrapping in the Catholic observance of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. At, it says: "[Indigenous Mexicans] believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them."

Old Town San Diego, 2011 | Lynne Cantwell
Families honor their dead by building ofrendas, or altars, at home. The ofrendas feature candles, marigolds, crepe paper decorations, sugar skulls, and photos of their deceased relatives. They leave toys and candy on the altar for spirits of children, and cigarettes and booze for adults. They also leave food on the altar, including pan de muerto, or bread for the dead. On November 2nd, everybody goes to the graveyard to have a picnic. There's music and card-playing, and folks clean their relatives' graves and reminisce about them. It's family-centered and fun.

Contrast that with Halloween, which was originally designed not to celebrate the dead, but to keep them from haunting the living. Although the idea behind the Day of the Dead is to keep the ancestors happy so the family's luck won't turn. So maybe they're not that different, after all.

Speaking of luck, here are the winners from the Maggie at Moonrise launch giveaway:

Great Goddess pillow cover and $10 Amazon gift card: Illume Eltanin
Sugar skull silicone mold: Will Griesmer
Sugar skull tiny trays (5 winners): Sharon Starns, Ashly Haraf, Amanda Whitley, Shirley Shepherd, Brian Lepak

Congrats, everyone! I'll contact you by email about mailing your prizes to you. Thanks to everyone for playing.

Maggie at Moonrise will indeed be released for Kindle this week, on Wednesday, November 2nd. I'm hoping to have the paperback out at the same time, but it may be next week. I'll keep you posted.

If you'd like a preview of Maggie's road trip, I've posted photos of her stops on a Pinterest board. Go here to see 'em:

These moments of festive blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Happy Halloween! ¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

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