Day of the Dead
by Alberto Muro
The death of a loved one is a heart breaking experience, and to overcome the feeling of sadness people have developed methods to hold onto memories of their deceased. Memorabilia is common, and there are many traditional ways which people honor their deceased.
For thousands of years November was observed in Latin American culture as a month to honor the deceased. The ongoing tradition of honoring the dead is called “Dia De Los Muertos” (Day of the Dead).
During Dia De Los Muertos, family members and loved ones get together to build a shrine and decorate it with items that brought joy to their deceased. Food, beverages, and music albums are some of many items that are placed at the shrines.
Festivities are common during Dia De Los Muertos, and it allows communities to come together and celebrate the lives of their deceased. Face painting that resembles a skull is a widely recognized feature about Dia De Los Muerto, and the creativity behind each face reflects on the cherished memories of the deceased.
Mexican folklore dances are also a notable trait of the festivities during Dia De Los Muertos. The dancers are dressed in colorful attire where the men wear hats, scarves, and boots while the women wear colorful dresses with bows in their hair.
Children are also an important aspect of the dancing tradition by wearing full body skeletal suits and skull masks as they engage in perfectly choreographed steps.
Dance director and host of a Dia De Los Muertos event Cruz Ramos and her daughter Muriel Ramos have partaken in the tradition in Bakersfield for the last 23 years.
Every year Cruz is on a mission to ensure that people enjoy their time at the Dia De Los Muertos festival. When asked about her motivation behind hosting the tradition, she said, “The love for our people that have left us and gone, and that includes friends because there is something in their lives that impacted us, and we learn something from them and in my case the love for God.”
Often people are misinformed about the tradition of Dia De Los Muertos, and although it’s a couple of days after Halloween, it has no affiliation. People that have not attended the event receive a history lesson about Dia De Los Muertos. Cruz is no stranger to newcomers curious about Dia De Los Muertos, she says, “They get educated, and they find out what they thought it was or what they heard. It has nothing to do with witchcraft or superstition. It’s a fact of life, we are born, and we are bound to die.”
Beverages, food, dancing, and familial bonds stand out at Dia De Los Muertos events, and at the end of the day, Cruz enjoys partaking in the tradition that her ancestors celebrated. We often take the time to mourn our deceased, but attending a Dia De Los Muertos event is a different story.
Sadness is replaced with celebration which Cruz pointed out “loved ones of the deceased are joking, there’s also laughter a lot of laughter and joy.” At the end of the day, those that we miss dearly want us to be happy, and Dia De Los Muertos is one of many traditions that people celebrate the lives of their deceased.