Story behind the man who brought the Calavera to life in San Antonio

KSAT Day of the Dead stories highlight tradition, celebration of life and death in Mexico

SAN ANTONIO – For some San Antonio families, Day of the Dead means writing Calaveras which poke fun at those you love or despise through poems.

Calaveras are common in Mexico, but how did the Calavera come to San Antonio?

“One person brought them over, Moises Espino del Castillo,” said Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark, UTSA division of Bicultural-Bilingual studies. “Castillo meant castle so he then becomes the ‘Duke of Calaveras.’”

Castillo was asked to write some poetry for a local newspaper in the early 1970s.

He initially was hesitant because he was a Spanish professor and all his work was done in Spanish.

“He said no one is going to be able to read them in an English speaking paper, but none the less, he did write some and started a 30-year career in writing Calaveras,” said Clark. “I think that is just one of the most incredible things that you can single handedly say this person brought Calaveras to San Antonio, Texas.”

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