My parents tell me that Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a dying tradition in their small hometowns of Coeneo and Tunguitiro in Michoacán, México. As a family, we do some symbolic traditions here in America to represent my parents’ culture from when they were younger. The first time I heard of Día de los Muertos was in 2009, when I was eleven. At this point, my abuelita (grandmother) had passed away earlier that year in April. Then my great-grandmother passed away in 2013, at the age of 103. Before these deaths, there was never really a reason to celebrate the holiday because we didn’t have anyone to be on our ofrenda (altar). Now we celebrate Día de los Muertos every year with the rest of our culture. It is a two-day celebration because November 1st is dedicated to the angelitos (deceased children) and November 2nd is dedicated to the deceased adults. My family and I usually go wild on the second day because we have more deceased adults than we have deceased children in our family. Some of the things we do to bring the holiday into our home range from hanging up pictures to putting out toys or other things that our deceased family members liked during their life on earth. As my brothers and I have grown up, moved out, and either gotten married or gone to school, we try to keep this tradition alive in our respective homes. My brothers and I usually make an altar full of pictures and some snacks that our deceased family members loved or replicas of knickknacks that they loved during their lifetime. My parents usually go all out with the food and decorations because they have a lot of experience with how to set everything up.
I remember talking with other Latins about Día de los Muertos, and they all have differing opinions. Some don’t usually celebrate it, others do but don’t go all out like we do, and for others, it’s just another day in the year. This tradition is very symbolic to my family because we are celebrating something that is not as important in America. This is my family’s culture. This holiday brings back both happy and sad memories. This holiday is what family is all about. With our thriving loved ones, we celebrate our deceased family members, who are dearly loved. Whether you celebrate Día de los Muertos or not, let us all remember our loved ones and celebrate them from time to time.