It has been said that death is the great equalizer. Certainly, it’s the one thing that none of us can avoid, so in that regard, we’re all the same.
In our post about all the skulls and skeletons associated with Day of the Dead, we talked about how this imagery serves as a humorous reminder that life is short. You can fear death, or you can choose to accept and embrace its inevitability. In their celebration of the Day of the Dead, the Mexicans (and many others in Latin America) choose the latter.
The Mexican printer and political cartoonist, Jose Guadalupe Posada modeled his iconic “Catrina” figure, frequently associated with the Day of the Dead, after a wealthy French woman who lived in Mexico during the reign of Porfirio Diaz. During this time, the poor masses lived a miserable existence, while the aristocrats lorded it over them, living high on the hog and abusing the power and wealth they enjoyed. By drawing Catrina—with her fancy plumed hat—as a skeleton, Posada wanted to communicate the idea that “you may think you’re high and mighty now, but in the end you’ll be dead—just like all the rest of us.”
It’s a popular sentiment—particularly among the downtrodden. There’s no clear consensus as to who first deemed death, “the great equalizer,” but the basic idea has been quoted and rephrased by many since: