“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,’ my mother explained shortly before she left me. ‘If you can remember me, I will be with you always.”
― Isabel Allende,
During the past few years, I have become very interested in the holiday called Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The Disney movie Coco has only increased my fascination with it. This past Halloween, I read as much as I could about the traditions and origin of the celebration. The days coincide with the Catholic holidays on November 1st and 2nd, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. But Dia De Los Muertos, in countries throughout Latin America, combines their people’s beliefs about celebrating the storied lives of their own beloved families.
The reason I became so enamored of this celebration was because I did not feel as though my own culture did the deceased justice. While All Souls’ Day exists, I did not experience a true spiritual reunion with those family members who have passed; there was remembrance but not quite enough festivity or connection. When I learned of the traditions associated with Dia De Los Muertos, I finally felt as though I had found that crossover between life and death for which I had been searching.
The movie Coco did such an amazing job because it takes you on a small boy’s journey to understand his past and then shows you how that recognition will shape his future. But it also breathes life into a true cultural wonder. I am so appreciative that we have a world full of traditions other than my own that are so truly spectacular as you make efforts to understand them. This is a holiday I want to bring into my own home to show my children that there are understandings in the world that go far beyond our own and that it is up to us to seek and learn them.
The following article from the Chicago Tribune describes the ofrenda that is made to the souls which cross over to visit the living. It is filled with significant offerings to those on their journey home.
Next year, I will do my absolute best to pay tribute to a holiday that I did not grow up with, but that I want to pass on to my own future generations. I will pass them on with true respect. But more importantly, I will pass on the stories and the legacies of the lives of my ancestors. I will pass on their triumphs as well as their fears. My children will know what a great journey this, being human. And they will understand the connection they have with all the people in this world around them. They will know to celebrate diversity and to embrace the brilliance of all cultures around them.
Check out http://presleyspantry.com to discover how to make these amazing sugar skulls. The following link also shows great photos of the festivals themselves. https://www.everfest.com/magazine/dia-de-los-muertos-photos-2016