Why the Day of the Dead matters

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A well known tradition in Mexican culture is the “Day of the Dead” or “El dia de los Muertos.” The day of the dead is celebrated on November 1-2, giving many families the opportunity to share a few more moments with loved ones who have passed on to the “after life.” Those who celebrate this tradition prepare by setting an altar in honor of their loved one, consisting of food, drinks, flowers, and a portrait. Now given this information, why should this tradition (and others) be celebrated or talked about? I interviewed Joselynn Camacho, a Junior at Washington High School and Vice President of ALAS (Association of American Latin Students). When asked about this topic, Joselynn expressed her opinion on this Mexican tradition: “El dia de los muertos is such a beautiful thing to celebrate. Just like many other traditions, it does take place yearly, meaning we do try to make it very memorable every year, but day of the dead for me is a day where we take time to honor those who passed.” Hearing this brought to mind another question: “why is it even important to talk about or even mention?” Camacho gave many reasons, saying it is an “important day because even though staying connected with a passed loved one on a daily basis is important, this day is like a birthday party in which the living and the dead get together, you know?” She followed this by saying, “I think many traditions have their importance but in this particular one its important because we get to honor our passed loved one in the most beautiful way by still offering their favorite food or drinks, making their altar, and decorating with their favorite items. Most of all, we use flor de cempazuchitl to help guide their way to us.” Throughout this interview we were both able to speak on our own traditions and go deep into our own roots, sharing out the desire to share this beautiful culture with others and getting “closure” by honoring, respecting, and still loving those who have passed on. 

Cultures and traditions both come in many different forms, but  a similarity that is found in all is the opportunity of sharing and learning from each others’ cultures and taking that chance to experience something new. As much as expressing your own tradition year after year is a very beautiful thing, adding some other cultures to your experience would not only bring you knowledge on other places around the world but would bring us more together as a society. 

For those who are interested on this tradition and are wanting to learn more about it or are wanting to experience it for themselves, a good way to start off is by marking that both November 1st and 2nd on your calendar (the 1st is for passed children, the 2nd is for passed adults). Proceed building an altar, placing it somewhere around your home, or if desired adorning your loved ones grave location is also a beautiful option. Either must get decorated with your loved ones portrait and offerings such as their favorite food, drinks, snacks or anything that the person was interested in. An “ofrenda” must also include candles, water for after their long trip to us, and flor de cempazuchitl which forms a “pathway” for them to be guided towards us. Finally, come together with family and friends and have a great time knowing your loved one is celebrating along with you all. 

Angie Mendoza is currently a senior at Washington High School, born and raised in the Bay Area and surrounded by the Fremont community. With this being Angie’s very first year at the Hatchet, she is excited to be able to have the opportunity to write about events taking place in the community and the new ideas that will be brought to life in Fremont and Washington High School. In her free time Angie enjoys being able to go out and take in the fresh air while listening to her top music by her favorite artists. Aside from being “out and about” she’s also delighted by her time spent at home, whether it be taking naps or spending her time painting and drawing. Her future plans consist of being able to graduate high school and attending Ohlone college on a two year plan and major in psychology to fulfill her desires to become a psychologist in the near future.

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