Nancy Rodriguez

On the first and second day of November, my grandma gathers all her children and grandchildren together at the cemetery to celebrate the dead. My cousins and I decorate the graves of our deceased relatives with flowers of all colors, and we light candles to help them find their way to us. For the entire two days, they are reunited with the living. To my grandma, that means once again being alongside her husband and two of her children, who all died tragically and suddenly.

Día de los Muertos is a uniquely Mexican holiday that blends together Indigenous Aztec rituals and the Catholic holidays of All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day brought to Latin America by the Spanish. The first of the two-day event is known as Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) because only the souls of children arrive to the land of the living. Adults arrive on the second day because their souls are much heavier.

An ofrenda (offering), decorated with candles and the deceased’s favorite toys, drinks, food, and candy, is put together a few days beforehand and lit on the 31st of October. The food is also meant to sate their hunger and thirst after their long journey back to the living.

Along with the ofrenda, families go to cemeteries to tell stories of the deceased family members. Although it might sound like a somber event, it treats death as a natural part of life. Though people pass away, they never stop being part of a family.


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