Informant: “Growing up in the United States for most of my life, October to me was Halloween. When I moved to Mexico, I learned about ‘El Día de los Muertos’ (The Day of the Dead). Living in Miami I remember hearing about the celebration in school but had never truly experienced it. My family and I actually decided to participate in the tradition to fully immerse ourselves into the culture. In our apartment’s foyer, we made an ofrenda (altar) to honor those we had lost. We decorated the table with papel chino (a colorful paper engraved with holes depicting skulls), calacas (sugar coated skulls), and Cempasuchitl (a bright orange flower). We also adorned the table with pictures of our dead relatives, a cross, candles, and Pan de Muerto (a breaded sugary dessert). Although we are not Mexican, we thought it was a great idea to honor our lost loved ones. It is a beautiful tradition. There is this specific street in the area Polanco where the middle sidewalk is filled with the Cempasuchitl’s flowers. It is really a beautiful sight!”
Collector: “I know that you live in Miami now again. Do you still celebrate it?
Informant: “No! Now that we moved back to Miami we no longer make an ofrenda. Not to be misunderstood, I love the tradition, I just don’t think it is appropriate for me to celebrate it in the U.S.”
Thoughts: At home in Mexico my family makes an ofrenda every year. What intrigues me about Carlota’s experience with the holiday is that she thinks it is inappropriate to continue celebrating it. Although Carlota was never Mexican she made the choice to participate in the tradition. I wonder if Carlota had lived longer in Mexico she maybe would have kept the tradition.