Remembering, A Family Tradition
Traditions are what hold families together, it’s what holds us together! Remembering those who have gone on before us is a big part of our family culture, so Dia De Los Muertos has become very special to our family. We have come to know loss in a very personal way as a family. From the passing of children, parents and grandparents, our loss has led us to finding creative ways to “remember” and keep our loved ones close. Truly remembering is a way of living, it's a family tradition.
I am sure you have watched Coco, that very well-done Disney movie about a young boy named Miguel. While you may think it is just a movie, it captured Mexican Heritage perfectly! Dia De Los Muertos is a highly celebrated holiday in Mexico, it’s beauty can be embraced in any family culture no matter where you live. I will share with you a few traditions we have embraced living in Mexico around this beloved holiday, we hope you will introduce some into your family this year! First I will share, what is Dia De Los Muertos. Next, a little history of the holiday and finally, simple ways you can celebrate with your family.
First, you should know that Dia De Los Muertos is not Mexico’s Halloween. It is a holiday where family members honor and remember those who have passed away and pray for their continued spiritual journey. It’s a multi-day celebration filled with reflection, traditional foods, and sweet memories. It is celebrated on November 1, ending on November 2. It isn’t a time of mourning, it’s literally a celebration of life of those who have passed. Beginning at midnight on October 31, just like in Coco, the tradition is that the worlds of the living and dead meet to celebrate each other.
How do we celebrate? Our family sets up an Altar or Oferenda, where we place pictures of our loved ones with flowers and other items that those loved ones may have enjoyed while alive, favorite foods or drinks. The Altar is very colorful and beautiful. While this is a very elaborate Altar, you can make yours simple and beautiful. Marigolds are the official flower of Dia De Los Muertos and are found being sold on street corners or made from tissue paper. The Marigolds are believed to act as a guide for our loved ones with their distinct smell and bright color. We grown them in our garden just for this holiday!
During this celebration you are likely to see decorated sugar skulls and decorated skeletons. “La Catarina” is the female iconic symbol of the holiday. She is a colorful skeleton that is very decorated with flowers and colorful accessories. You will also find tissue paper banners called “papel picado” that are hung in the streets as well as homes as part of the decorations for the day. Another part of the celebration is delicious foods. Pan De Muerto is a sweet bread with a hint of orange flavor. It’s soft and delicious and sprinkled with sugar. We love to dip it into our favorite hot chocolate or Grandma Christine’s Cinnamon Tea.
Each year we host a celebration in our home. We have a pizza making party, where each person prepares their personal pizza and The Farmer cooks them in the wood fired oven. We sit a talk, through dinner about our loved ones who have passed away and their importance to us. Then we have hot chocolate, wrap in blankets, and watch the movie Coco outside in the yard.
It’s one of our favorite gatherings of the year!
There are so many traditions within the celebration of Dia De Los Muertos. Don’t feel like you need to do them all, that could be overwhelming. Choose the things that draw your family together, it’s not about all of the activities, it’s about being together, it's about remembering.
That’s the beauty of traditions, they are meant to belong to you.