How I celebrate Day of The Dead - A Magical Holiday
When I was little, I remember going to the cemetery and hopping from grave to grave. We lived in Mexico then and things were very different. The pace was slower, we all knew each other, and town celebrations were frequent and merry. Honestly, I scarcely remember why we celebrated other than that we did so what seemed like every other Sunday in our town plaza—and, it was magical.
Visiting our town’s cemetery was not uncommon for us as taking care of our grandmother’s grave and those of our close relatives was part of our Sunday ritual. With that said, I regrettably do not remember celebrating El Dia De Los Muertos specifically as celebrating our ancestry was almost an every day occurrence.
My nanny, whom I lovingly called Mama Manuela, was the one that I went with on most occasions. We would spend what seemed like hours in the cemetery cleaning, talking – to each other and to our relatives. While I remember being disciplined for jumping on the graves by family members, Mama Manuela encouraged it. She would tell me that our ancestors enjoyed the company and energy we brought, and that as long as we were being respectful while playing, which I think she meant as long as I did not destroy anything, we were okay.
Until a few years ago, I had honestly forgotten to celebrate or even acknowledge the holiday. Once we moved to the United States, we no longer had graves to visit or random celebrations in the plaza. It was all very different, and assimilating became a major priority for us. Now I struggle to remember important Mexican holidays and tradition as well as the proper way to speak Spanish. I tend to lean closer to Spanglish most days, which I honestly find embarrassing. I grew up knowing the language fluidly, and now I struggle to have a conversation without taking long pauses while I think about the proper way to say something. It is these circumstances that make me truly appreciate whenever opportunities to learn more about and celebrate my heritage arise. And it is these circumstances that have led us to create our own traditions. Some of our current traditions include:
· visiting the Springs Preserve the first weekend of November, as this is when they host a big Day of the Dead celebration
· lighting candles in honor of our ancestors
· reading a lovely book on the topic
· sharing an enchanting evening with family
Spending time with my family is my favorite activity as we seem to have less and less free time for each other the older we get and because we tend to always share a delicious meal, compliments of my mom.
Visiting the Springs Preserve is a lot of fun and something Ryan and I have been doing for the last couple of years. If you live or visit Las Vegas the first weekend of November, I highly recommend stopping by the if at all possible. They have taken this celebration to a whole new level. Not only do they invite the community to build altars in honor of anyone they would like to recognize – I’ve seen some dedicated to Selena, to events such as the local shooting that took place on October 1st , and of course to family members–but they also have a wonderful selection of activities for kids to take part in as well as traditional and nontraditional food for everyone to try. I am a huge fan of this event and try to always attend with Ryan.
Before our first visit, Ryan knew about the holiday but did not really understand it. As time goes by I realize he is not in the minority and that is why I wanted to write a post on the topic.
The Day Of The Dead is a day where we celebrate our ancestors; their lives; their accomplishments; their personalities. To honor them we build altars dedicated to them and fill them with some of their favorite things—bread, drink, favorite dishes, candles, flowers, garments, jewelry, etc.—and then we celebrate. We celebrate their lives with the hope that they know they are cherished and not forgotten, and we celebrate life. Our festivities include singing, dancing, parades, creating our own drink and treats while leaving their altars up in their honor overnight, or until we are ready to take it down. It is quite a special event.
I love dressing up the day of. I’m not the best at creating the traditional sugar skull makeup but I have improved year over year. Do you celebrate Day Of The Dead? How do you try to keep some of your traditions alive?
Here are a few articles I think you’ll enjoy relating to the topic:
· Bringing home the dead – anatomy of an altar
P.S. This post is not sponsored. I love the Springs Preserve try to support it as much as possible as I think they add a lot to our community.