Now that the trick or treaters are home nursing belly aches after a night of eating the candy their parents approved, and the parents are battling sugar highs from the candy they confiscated from their kids treat bags, what ‘s the next holiday?
If you live in Mexico or are Mexican it’s “Dia de Muertos” or the Day of the Dead. I know that probably sounds ominous to some people but in reality it is far from that. It’s actually part of a 3-day celebration where friends and family remember loved ones who have passed away. Beginning on October 31st and running through November 2nd it includes a variety of activities including building “ofrendas” or private altars and visiting the graves of the dead with gifts of sugar skulls, marigolds, and the foods and drinks the deceased enjoyed in life. This is not as macabre as some might think and certainly no different from many other cultures. The spirits of the deceased are encouraged to visit with the living so that they can hear the prayers offered for them as well as the memories of them shared by the living. These are often humorous tales.
What could be nicer than spending time cleaning around a loved one’s grave, placing colorful flowers (in this case marigolds which are said to draw the dead), and setting up these altars? Some bring toys for children, tequila or mescal for adults, or some special gift for the departed.
All these countries and cultures have one thing in common, a respectful and joyous remembrance of those who have passed on. From Europe, through Latin America, the Philippines, and the United States celebrations to recognize the dead are quite common. Each may have its own distinctive style and traditions but the central purpose is to recognize the place of the dead in the lives of the living.