This past Friday was a really important day in Mexican culture. It was Day of the Dead. If you’ve ever seen Disney’s “Coco”, “The Book of Life” or the latest episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”, then you may have an idea of what the day is about. But for a quick rundown, Day of the Dead is a holiday where we celebrate the ancestors that have left this world and they come from the spirit world to visit their families for one day until sunrise the next. Mantels are decorated with pictures of our family members who have left this world, their favorite foods and there are celebrations everywhere that you turn.
People like to call it “Mexico’s Halloween” sometimes. But if you ask me, it’s much more than just Halloween. Sure, we have the sweets, the decorations and the special clothes picked out with special music. But the meanings behind the day and the relation between all of these small things is very different. The premise of this day, that’s what we care about the most.
What many of us long for is a chance to be able to see our loved ones again. To spend time with them, tell them the things that we didn’t get to say before they left us and to know that they’re okay. This for us is the one day out of the year where we get the chance to do that. And it may only last for a day or for a night – but that’s all the time that we need.
It’s also the one day out of the year that we can celebrate everyone that has come before us. It’s like a personalized Heritage Day. A time when we learn about the legacy that has been left behind, the space that we take up in that legacy and take pride in the families that we come from. We talk about these people and share their stories – the good, the bad and the unforgettable.
The best part about this day is that it’s not scary or dark or sad. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of that. It’s vibrant, full of life and love, and so filled with joy that you can’t feel the darkness around. There are girls dressed in full dressed with bright colors dancing with their partners, marigolds all around, sweets and food galore – it’s the most beautiful sight. And the feeling you get when you see it all and experience the warmth, that something that is a great feeling.
I’m very proud of where I come from with my family legacy. I love that I get a chance in the year to reconnect with them and their stories and spend time with them, even if I can’t see them there. I feel them there, and my marigolds will bring their home to me for a moment so that we all know we’re okay. And I love that there is a time of the year where “death” doesn’t have to be a bad thing – it can be a celebration of life. Because in a world with some very dark clouds, it’s always nice to find some light.