Having moved at a young age to this country from Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is one of those traditions that I unintentionally left behind. But now, I want my two sons to understand what this day means and learn about their ancestors who have passed. So, this year we will celebrate for the first time in their lives.
What is Dia de los Muertos? The belief is that on this day, the souls of our deceased loved ones return to be with us. It’s a sweet time of remembrance and not at all related to Halloween, though it falls around the same time. We make an ‘altar’ with pretty yellow flowers called ‘cempasuchil’ and fill it with offerings and items that remind us of them. We will place my Papa Salvador’s picture along with a miner’s hat.
I remember wanting to be a miner when I grew up to be just like him, and I couldn’t understand why my parents didn’t name me after him and just put an ‘a’ at the end to denote I was a girl. He was so special to me…I may even place a glass of cognac (his favorite drink) in the altar. I know he will like that.
We will place photos of my husband’s Papaw and Tanma, with other meaningful items, and a picture of sweet Henry (who left too soon) with the toy he liked. We will write notes about each person and read them aloud. My favorite part of the day is reminiscing, praying and feeling our loved ones close to us.
This year, I won’t get to go to a cemetery filled with beautiful flowers, listen to mariachi music and hear ‘literary skulls,’ (rhymed verses that humorously make light of death). I probably won’t feel the celebration all around me as I would in Mexico, but hopefully, my kids and my husband will embrace it with me and carry it on.