Las calaveritas

Las calaveritas is a term used for a beautiful literary expression that takes place in Mexico, as part of the Day of the Dead celebration. The literary translation would be “little skeleton”, but they actually are popular verses, typically full of satire, intended to mock a specific person. It usually includes the death with the different names in which Mexicans refer to it such as: the skinny one, the skeleton, bony one or just the Death. It also mentions the person whom the mock is directed to. That person is pictured in the verses as dead or as someone the skinny one is visiting to take with her.

It is a beautiful tradition back from the colonial times which also involves a lot of creativity. I remember that in elementary and middle school we used to have to write a “calaverita” and bring it to class to participate in a contest. We used to write it in black paper with white crayons or white chalk.

In some workplaces, these expressions are very much encouraged and they still hold contests. Last year, a close friend won the contest that was held at his job. There are also a lot of calaveritas created to mock politicians or specific professions.

I also wrote a small, not very elaborated one, for a friend last year:

Estaba la flaca en crisis
Pues el trabajo había bajado
Pensó, tendré que ir a Phoenix
A hablar con quien se lo ha llevado

Fue así como llegó la calaca
A decirle al señor Reyes
Me estás quitando la chamba
¡Estás salvando muchos weyes!

ENGLISH VERSION: (adapted for it to rhyme)

The skinny one was in crisis
Work was very slow
She though I need to go to Phoenix
And talk to the one who knows

That’s how the bony lady arrived
To talk to Mr. Reyes
She said exactly what was in her mind:
You are saving too many patients!

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