Dia de Los Muertos is not Mexican Halloween, or a continuation of Halloween. It's not scary, it's a family event in which we remember and honor family and friends who have died. It is believed their spirits come to visit us on this day, and it's a celebration of their lives.
When I lived in Mexico, early in the morning, we would go buy our flowers, and food and head to my Grandmother's house. There we would get more flowers and head to the Cemetery. I have very blurry memories of how we got to the cemetery, as it was roughly 3 miles away. But I remember everybody was carrying flowers.
Part of the ritual of Dia De los Muertos is cleaning the graves of our family members. We took great pride and work on making sure that their graves were the nicest we could manage.
After we got home, we would prepare the food for the day. It was like a quiet party, and my family would share stories of my great grandparents.
Another big part of Dia De los Muertos was setting up the Altar. My grandmother would dig out pictures of her Mom, her Dad, her Father In Law, her Mother In Law. She lined up candles, water, food and flowers.
The Altar de Muertos is an offering to those who have died. An invitation for their spirits to visit us on Dia de Los Muertos.
|My altar from last year|
Sadly, this year I have one more family member to add to my altar. I do my altar because of love for the family members who have passed.
I set up my Altar with the basics below and a short explanation.
Water- for the spirits to drink from their long journey.
Pictures of the people who have died and are being remembered.
Salt- For purification
Religious images - This one is a difficult one every year! I was raised catholic, but don't really practice the religion, so I have no religious images at my house.
Food- The food that those departed enjoyed when they were with us.
Candy- The candy that they enjoyed. Also, this is more for the spirits of Children.
Alcohol- tequila, beer. (I put whatever Roger has, because I don't have a stockpile of Tequila)
Flowers- to celebrate their return.
Candles- to light their way
Pan De Muerto- I only learned recently that Pan de Muerto (sweet bread) is covered in pink sugar for adults and white sugar for kids. In the absence of pan de muerto last year, I put out a donut. My son saw it on the table and ate it.
There is other things that I don't put in the altar de Muertos, only because of time. Like paper Mache, paper flowers, sugar skulls, and personal items. This year, I made paper flowers and paper cutouts!
Funny story- When my son was 4, I told him that we were setting up the Altar for our loved ones who had died and that their spirits were coming to visit. He got really excited and helped me set up everything, he even helped me clean his room. Later on the day, he came to me and asked "Mom, When are our family members coming? We have been waiting ALL DAY!!"
This year, my Altar de Muertos is dedicated to the following : Abuela Ninfita, Abuelo Simon, Tio Ruben, Tio Abel, Tio Martin, Tio Juan, Abuela Juana, Abuelo Francisco, Tia Toña, Tia Isabel, cousin Migue, my nephew Mario, Great Grandma Nina.
I know this is might be a new concept for some of you, but on this Dia De los Muertos, who will you remember? whose life will you celebrate?