What is a Catrina? Is it a deceased person? A little but not really

“La Catrina” is the painted skull face you see everywhere this time of year because of the Dia de los Muertos festivities, but La Catrina has a story you might not know. We all know that La Catrina has become a symbol of the afterlife, but she didn’t start her life that way. She was in fact a political symbol.

Make fun of upper class ladies
Jose Guadalupe Posada was an artist who created La Catrina. Posada made fun of upper class ladies in Mexico who tried to look like “target =” _ blank “> wealthy European women. Posada’s caricature of upper class Mexican ladies who thought that by wearing makeup on their faces they would look like more to the fair-skinned European women they wanted to emulate Posada made fun of Mexican women, and upper class in general, because he felt they turned their backs on their native Mexican heritage.

Considering how iconic La Catrina has become in Hispanic communities, it’s quite ironic that Posada’s artistic commentary on upper-class Mexican women being ashamed of their heritage has now come full circle and celebrated by Hispanics.

Goddess of death
The Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacihuatl, was Posada’s inspiration for La Catrina. She presided over a month-long ancient ritual that honored the dead. When Christianity arrived in Mexico, rather than trying to stop the ritual, the Church simply incorporated this ritual into its own rituals. This is something the Church has done often and is probably why what began as a political declaration against the Mexican upper classes has become a staple of Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

La Catrina started out as a simple line drawing of a skeletal woman in a fancy hat, but has grown into a finely painted and ornate Dia de los Muertos symbol that we see today. I love her just because she’s the mediator between the living and the dead. She shows us that there is life after death, and that our lost loved ones are always close to us. What could be more comforting than that?

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