There are Altars honoring those who have passed away everywhere in my town.
Altars in Restaurants.
Altars in the Churches.
They make me smile.
The altars are prepared to honor, celebrate and remember those who have departed.
When my father died in August of 2007, our community garden neighbor brought me Sun Flowers from her garden plot as soon as she heard the news. She did not know that sunflowers were my dad’s favorite flower.
The conversation about death ensued and she recommended that I make an altar to honor him, that it would be cathartic. She coached me on this Mexican Tradition with Aztec roots. A woman of Mexican descent, she held gatherings in her home on how to make paper flowers, sugared skulls and pan de muertos (Mexican bread of the Dead).
Two months later, the week of Halloween, All Souls Day and All Saints Day, I did just that, I made an Altar. I carefully placed photos of my dad and mementos that reminded me of him; his dog tags, candles, his wallet and of course a bouquet of sunflowers. The process made me smile.
I love traditions. I love how my husband and I designed a life for our children rich in ceremonies, celebrations and traditions. Even though Dia De Los Muertos is not part of our family’s cultural heritage, it’s a ritual that I find lovely.
This year, I will make two altars, one for my dad and a new one to honor my mom. It will have photos of her, beautiful flowers from the garden, scented candles, her favorite recipe book and other things that remind me of her. And it will make me smile.
Souls Remembered and Loved!
Check out National Geographic Education to learn more about Dia De Los Muertos!