Every year, the second day of November fills up my body with a sense of pride.
The culture, the colors, and the uniqueness that the celebration of Día de Muertos — or Day of the Dead —encompass feels like there’s no other holiday as magical as this one.
Being born with such strong Mexican roots and having the opportunity to experience another country and its customs — the United States, in this case — has always made me appreciative of the significance behind a tradition that’s entirely focused on death. And when we’re talking about death, we’re certainly bringing up a conversation that can be quite scary or not-so-pretty for some.
However, Mexico did the opposite and gave beauty to something that could seem very difficult to embellish. The meaning behind this day goes beyond just altars, flowers, food, and calaveritas de azúcar. It is much deeper than all the colors and decorations that make the Día de Muertos so mysterious and charming to both Mexicans and foreigners.
This Mexican celebration represents the return of the ones that we love and are no longer among us. The colorful altars filled with a variety of items become the means of contact with the people that are still in this world and are honoring their late family members or friends.
Why ‘Dia de Muertos’ matters to me
To me, Día de Muertos is Mexico in its truest essence. It’s a tradition born on Mexican soil that puts this country’s culture, vision, and pulchritude in the eyes of everyone. It becomes one of the only countries highlighting the beauty in something as painful and hard to endure as death.
Every year, this holiday comes to remind us that there’s nothing dark and unusual about the departure from life. Instead, there’s so much to celebrate, remember, and cherish.
When I stop for a moment and remind myself that this tradition comes from the place where my family is from, Día de Muertos stops being just a holiday and becomes part of my identity. I feel like I belong. I feel the most suertuda of having such a particular thing to celebrate in my culture.
Like Roman philosopher Marcus Tulles Cicero said, “the life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”