In 2013 I visited my sister in Oaxaca during the season of Dia de Muertos. It was an interesting and moving experience, unlike anything I had encountered before. I brought with me some mementos of departed relatives and pets to add to the ofrenda my sister built at her house.
I was able to see the festivities take place over three days and nights, and I was able to participate in a very real and emotional way with my own family. Mexicans view this without sadness but as a celebration, because loved ones awaken and celebrate with them.
Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using calaveras, tagetes erecta, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.
- October 31, All Hallows Eve, children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos to come back for a visit.
- November 1 is All Saints Day, and adult spirits come to visit.
- November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives.
The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.
Now I have a new outlook on the occasion of October 31st through November 2nd and fondly celebrate those in my life and those who are gone from it.