S: “[T]here’s Día de los Muertos which is Day of the Dead. So for that we like have an alter in our house, which is basically just like pictures of all our dead relatives and we light candles and then we… pray to God that there like in a better place. A lot of the times we go to like the cemetery and we bring like food, their favorite food and we place it at like their grave and like tombstones and that’s you offering up the dead person’s favorite food. I forget what the reasoning is, you might want to research into that, but it’s like so they have something to remind them of their old life, comfort food? I’m not sure but you take their favorite food to their grave site.”
He later told me he celebrates it on November 2nd, but November 1st is celebrated too however that’s only for saints/angels.
S is a Mexican American born in Long Beach, California. His parents are from Mexico. S celebrated this holiday since he was little as his parents taught it to him with one of his earliest memories of Día de los Muertos was celebrating it with and for his grandmother. S’s take on Día de los Muertos is it’s about preserving history and keeping traditions alive.
S: “I like to think about it in terms of like when someone passes there’s a chance they’re not going to be remembered by like history you know? Like so few people get remembered by like the things they contributed to the world. Even historical figures, no one really likes… they just learn about them because you have to, no one really remembers as much. And when it comes to your family, you’re the only person who’s going to remember them. In terms of history, you know, they’re just going to be washed away like they didn’t really exist, so I guess it’s up to you to keep their memory alive and just make sure like the things they did while they were alive matters to you and it means something as a way to keep them like they’re still here, you know? Cause when you die, you’re gone, but your memory lives on and I guess that’s a way to make sure their memory doesn’t also die and they still live on through that which I guess is a big part of Day of the Dead and stuff like that.”
Día de los Muertos is very much about honoring and remembering loved ones. They can be for family members, friends, idols, etc. however important ones are mostly for family members. As S explained, people celebrate this holiday to keep their loved ones alive in spirit as despite being physically gone. The concept of offering foods at graves and alters with pictures of the passed away is similar to the idea Valk explained with ghosts haunting family members and being territorial. Though the spirits of those who passed away here are tied to their graves and alter photos and are not hostile but almost guardian-like.