Día de los Muertos Traditions

Transcription: “We don’t do a big ofreda. My mom puts out photos of my grandma and lights a lot of candles on that day… I guess in remembrance of her spirit. We don’t eat the special bread.”

When I first asked my informant to tell me about any of her family traditions, she immediately thought of Día de los Muertos. Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated by those of Mexican descent. The celebration remembers those who are no longer living starting on October 31 and ending on November 2. During that time, the spirits of the dead were thought to be able to come to earth and mingle with the living.

My informant’s family is from Mexico and she is originally from Texas, therefore, she has a strong connection to Mexican culture. When I asked about her Dia de los Muertos practices, she explained that the traditions her family follows on the holiday are simple. Although her family recognizes Día de los Muertos, it is not an integral holiday in her family tradition.

Every year, her mother sets up Día de los Muertos decorations. Día de los Muertos is known for its extravagant ofrendas, or offerings, to the dead. Since Día de los Muertos is not a popular holiday in her family, they do not set up elaborate ofrendas. Instead, they set up pictures of deceased relatives and light candles. Her family’s decorations may be simplistic, but they accomplish the same goal as the ofrendas. Both honor the dead by recalling their image to the minds of the family and invite a spiritual form of remembrance.

According to my informant, there is a special type of sweet bread that is eaten on Día de los Muertos, but her family does not usually buy it. My overall impression was that her family celebrates Día de los Muertos not because they believe in the holiday, but because honoring the dead is central component of their culture.