Dia de los Muertos has become a big part of my life for the past ten years or so. Although I did not grow up celebrating this holiday, I was quickly enchanted by the beauty of its tradition. Every year, my children have celebrated alongside my husband and I. We’ve gone to festivals, art shows, ceremonies, dances, and we’ve read books about it, created art, crafts and we’ve painted our faces.
It’s safe to say my children have grown up celebrating Dia de los Muertos. It saddens me when I hear people say they are concerned with the “dark” imagery of the holiday, that it seems creepy or weird to “celebrate” the dead with their children. Some people are put off by the ritualistic nature of the day–the visiting of grave sites (this is customary in Mexico), building altars, lighting candles, etc.
But we all have rituals, don’t we? I believe that Dia de los Muertos is for the living, not the dead. The souls of our loved ones are long gone–only their shells remain in the ground. But the physical exercise of remembering them, what they liked to eat and drink and what their laugh sounded like is demonstrated by our offerings of cempazuchitl (marigolds) and bread, making art, dancing, burning sage, donning a mask–those are for us.
My children have yet to experience tragedy and death, so their celebrating is always in the abstract. One day, it won’t be so. Then we’ll celebrate Dia de los Muertos in earnest.
We’ll build our altar and tenderly place photos of our loved ones upon it.
We’ll light candles.
We’ll sprinkle cempazuchitl.
We’ll eat pan de muerto.
We’ll put flowers in our hair.
We’ll love and laugh.
Please watch this touching video about children and Dia de los Muertos. I just watched it and ahh, it really pulled at my heartstrings.
First, as a parent–no one wants to think of prematurely leaving their child. Second, as a child–I want my mother and father to live forever and I couldn’t imagine life without them.
What do you think of the video?