COLUMN: The dead are not forgotten

To many, today might just be the day after Halloween. It might just be the first day of November, a time to ready ourselves for the next holiday where a roasted turkey will take center stage on our dining tables. However, there is another holiday you might be skipping over without realizing it. Nov. 1 is Día de los Muertos, otherwise known as Day of the Dead. On this day, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on a loved one that has passed away. 

During Day of the Deadwhich ends on Nov. 2, its believed that the gates of heaven open at midnight, so the dead can visit the living. Families celebrate their deceased loved ones with altars and special offerings with their favorite meals. Graves are cleaned up and marigolds are placed in decoration, their signature deep orange hue bringing life to the burial site. Skull face painting is also popular; people, especially kids, paint skulls on their faces and crown their heads with flowers. 

The Day of the Dead is worth celebrating by everyone. Celebration, rather than mourning, is an important distinction to make. The time to mourn has passed. Now, it’s time to celebrate the life that once was there, and that we will one day reunite with. Especially during this holiday-heavy time of year, we might benefit from slowing down and remembering those who can no longer make it to festivities. 

Though the Day of the Dead is a holiday that originated in Mexico, that does not mean you cannot celebrate it, and you should not feel uncomfortable doing so. If you would like to make an altar or visit your loved one at their grave, that is totally acceptable. If instead of applying face paint and creating an altar you would rather say a silent prayer, that is also appropriateReflecting on memories is a good way to pay homage without seeming over the top. 

Personally, I like to think of memories that I had with them or could’ve had. Specifically, I had an older sister pass away when she was only seven months old, so I never got the chance to meet her. On days like today, I like to converse with her memory and think of all the ways she could’ve guided me in life. Sometimes I laugh. I cry. But above all, I celebrate. 

The Day of the Dead is a holiday that has transcended borders and is now celebrated across Latin America and the U.S. Today and tomorrow, remember a deceased relative, friend, coworker, pet, or favorite artist – anyone who has passed away and that you miss. Welcome them back, at least for a day, to the land of the living. 

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