El Dia de Los Muertos

The end of October not only marks the time to celebrate Halloween but also a Latin American celebration.

El Dia de Los Muertos, which is Spanish for day of the dead, begins mid day of October 31st until the second of November.

This is a celebration that focuses on embracing the return of the departed friends and family members who are thought to be among us on the first two days in November.

To kickoff the festivities the City of Naperville hosted the first annual El Dia de Los Muertos celebration at city hall.

The Mexican traditions date back to more than 3,000 years when it began celebrating in cemeteries.

“We cleaned the cemeteries we have a picnic in the cemeteries and remember the good days that we have had with them,” said Patricia Carlos, Pilsen artist.

The common symbol for the day is the sugar skull. On the days leading up to the celebration children can paint masks and to resemble the sugar skulls.

“It’s nice to know where the traditions come from because I was born and raised in Elgin, and I want to know where all the background comes from,” said Elgin resident, Micala Sandoval. “When we go to Mexico I want to be apart of the culture and the traditions.”

El Dia de Los Muertos is more than just music, food, and art. It is a way for people to stay connected with those who have passed.

An altar is another way that family members can create to pay homage to their passed loved ones by putting some of their favorite things on it.

“We remember them in a very dear way,” said Carlos. “We remember them like they were alive. We have their favorite food, bread, and toys.”
Traditions like the altar spark memories of when Sandoval was a child.

“Sometimes you start losing that tradition,” said Sandoval. “When my parents see this they get excited because they don’t want their grandchildren to lose the traditions.”

Ironically, day of the dead celebrations like this are an essential way to keep family cultural traditions alive.

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