My first memories of Día de Los Muertos was the smell of fresh mole and bolillos (baguettes) that my grandmother made and we took to the cemetery where her parents and siblings were buried, this repeated every November first, it was the most magical event of the year for me. I didn’t really know about Halloween then.

Abuelita said that bringing your relatives’ favorite foods to their tomb will bring their souls back to their buried bodies and we will feel close to them again –“death is part of life and we shouldn’t be afraid of it,” she used to say. She died last year in her sleep; she was not afraid to welcome La Muerte (lady death).

To bring her close to our heart, my son and I made an altar with some of her favorite items: Virgin de Guadalupe, Saints, Claveles (flowers) and fruit (sorry Abue, I don’t make mole!)

The one thing I learned about the sugar skulls and why you write your name on them is to think of your own death as part of your own life – in a sweet way – to not be afraid of it, just like Abuelita said. To celebrate our dead we decorate tombs or at-home-altars with Flor de Cimpasúchil, papel picado, tissue paper flowers, sugar skulls, pan de muerto, atole, fruits and the beautiful Catrinas o Calaveras which were made famous by painter Diego Rivera in his Mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en Alameda Central

One of the places in Mexico that has celebrated the Day of the Dead for centuries is Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, 30 minutes from where I grew up. This place is as magical as my childhood memories. In this town every November 1st, you can feel the souls of your ancestors, you can smell  wonderful foods and enjoy the vivid colors of the decorations. We believe the dead take the food’s flavors, therefore you are not supposed to eat the food offered to the ancestors. It is a big and colorful celebration that lasts all night!

{Photo courtesy of Michoacán el Alma de México}

I would like to invite you to celebrate your loved ones that have passed by sharing your Dia de Muertos pictures and stories on SpanglishBabyPlayground.  You can try to cook their favorite foods and decorate an altar with their pictures. I think it’s a wonderful experience for the whole family and especially for our SpanglishBabies who will continue a very dear cultural tradition their ancestors have celebrated for centuries.

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