By Juana Bordas, Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver: Cuernavaca, Mexico
Día de los Muertos is a time to remember loved ones who have passed on. It is a blessing and gift that connects us to our past and has been commemorated for centuries.
Many people also celebrate Halloween at this time, but there is a BIG difference. Halloween speaks of ghost and goblins, vampires, zombies, witches and devils to scare away bad spirits away. Dia de los Muertos invites our loved ones back to guide and protect us. It celebrates connections that live on! It’s not scary – it’s SACRED!
4 ways to commemorate Dia de Los Muertos
1. Take time to remember loved ones who have passed on.
This week remember your loved ones – celebrate their lives – and give thanks for their contributions to your life!
2. Gather Pictures and Favorite things: Create a Dia de los Muertos Altar
The centerpiece of Dia de los Muertos is the altar. These can be very elaborate, but also be very simple – the important thing is to welcome and to reconnect with people by remembering them and the things they loved.
Post pictures of your family and your altar to share with others. Spend a few minutes each evening lighting a candle, remembering, and inviting your loved ones to guide and support you.
3. Make this a family and community celebration: Remember wisdom, gifts and lessons
The night of October 31st the cemeteries in Mexico are aglow with candles, marigolds, and Kahlo lilies. The whole community commemorates together. Families gather with food, music, and drink. There is much talking, story-telling, and remembering. Mezcal made from maguey, a sacred plant in Mexico, is passed around to keep the spirit warm for the night-long vigil.
You can invite people to share a favorite meal or drink of their departed relatives. Tell stories about them.
What made them special? Toast their lives and contributions.”Los Muertos” deepens the circle of life, strengthens the connection between generations.Have people reflect on and share the wisdom, gifts and lession of your relative’s lives/
They say that ..achieving your dreams – leaving a legacy –
makes for a happy afterlife!
4. Reflect and Plan: How do you want to be remembered?
In Oaxaca, Mexico the evening of November 1 is alive with costumes, bands, food and drink. People parade singing and dancing from house to house. Cadavers are dressed to the nines, sometimes humorous and whimsical. This speaks to a different relationship with death -and the afterlife. Not a scary or dark event – people laugh at the “grim reaper.” Death cannot separate us from those we love and we rejoice that we have lived yet another year.
“Los Muertos” reminds us that la vida (life) is fleeting – the time to act, to do accomplish, and to celebrate is now – ahora!
During this solemn and yet festive time – Take time to reflect on your own life journey and the legacy you wish to leave. How do you want to be remembered? What have you been putting off doing? What is one thing you can do to advance your legacy?
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media: Photos taken in Cuernavaca, Mexico