The Afterlife: Dia de Los Muertos Celebration
From sugar skulls to a countless amount of marigold petals stretching from house to house. The smell of pan de Muerto at every bakery and music playing from all directions. Cemeteries are full of people visiting their loved ones that have passed. Homes are adorned with homemade altars filled with food and pictures of loved ones.
Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration to honor the dead. Families celebrate in their homes and at the graves of loved ones from November 1-2.
It is a Hispanic tradition to celebrate and remember those who have passed by making an offering altar where they place their pictures and food they used to enjoy and share memories of them.
Many people wonder where the idea of honoring the dead comes from; most will agree that it came from Spaniards when they started to colonize south and central America. Others will argue that the idea comes from the Mayans, Aztecs, and Inca.
“It is something that the pre-hispanic cultures like the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas celebrated. They have very similar rituals to the ones we still have,” South Texas College instructor Claudia Camarillo said.
The Hispanic community takes this tradition to heart by taking their time to prepare the ofrenda, preparing food, and feeling close to passed away relatives again as if they were still alive.
“I start preparing the ofrenda on the 28th because it is believed that the souls have to travel, so we cannot do everything in one day,” Camarillo said.
Families gather around the dinner table to enjoy the very same food their loved ones enjoyed when they were living.
“We have a traditional dinner, most of the time it is pozole, my mom’s favorite food, and we remember them, we pray for them and celebrate their lives, ” Camarillo said.
There’s a concern that the tradition of Dia de Los Muertos will come to an end because they feel that the future generation won’t continue the tradition or stop passing it down as their family tree grows.
“I don’t think it will because many Hispanic parents teach their kids about the tradition, and so many grow up to make it their own as well,” Betsaida Rivera said.
A Disney film “COCO” was produced to represent the celebration of Dia de Los Muertos, but when the film was released, there was a debate on whether it did show the true meaning of Dia de Los Muertos.
“It shows how families come together to celebrate the memory of the people who have died,” Yanesie Martinez said. “It also gives an insight into how this tradition goes and how most Hispanic families celebrate it.”
Dia de Los Muertos is a tradition not to honor evil but to honor the souls of those who have passed away. This celebration is by welcoming those souls back into the world, sharing memories about them with the family, and passing the tradition from generation to generation.