This weekend is Halloween weekend and I hope everyone stays safe and has a fun time if participating. We don’t get as many trick or treaters as we used to as I think times have changed from when kids could safely run amuck in the neighborhood, eating copious amounts of candy and horse-trading with friends. This next week will also find the holiday The Day Of The Dead which some may celebrate. Sounds scary right? It is really a touching celebration for those in our lives who have passed on.

The Mexican holiday El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an opportunity for to remember and pay tribute to deceased loved ones. Celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd, this holiday is similar to the American celebration of Halloween, with its themes of death and the spirit world. However, unlike the modern-day interpretation of Halloween, El Día de los Muertos is neither morbid nor gloomy. It is a festive remembrance of those who have departed.

The Day of the Dead has its origins of a number of different national and religious customs. In pre-Hispanic times, the Mexican people maintained deep and personal times with their dead. In fact, family members were often buried directly underneath their homes. When the colonizing Spaniards arrived, they brought with them their Catholic customs, including All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day. These Christian practices link back to Samhain, the ancient Celtic holiday that honored the transition of the dead from this world to the spirit world.

The Mexican people eventually blended their strong spiritual ties to the dead with the influencing Catholic holidays of All Souls’ and All Saint’s Day.

The belief that during the Day of the Dead, spirits return to Earth for the day to be with their families. Little angel (angelitos) spirits arrive on October 31st at midnight and stay for 24 hours. Adults come the next day and stay through November 2.

According to Bobbi Salinas, author of Indo-Hispanic Folk Art Traditions, Day of the Dead “is a uniquely Indo-Hispanic custom that demonstrates a strong sense of love and respect for one’s ancestors; celebrates the continuance of life, family relationships, community solidarity and even finds humor after death — all positive concepts!”

During this time family members cook the favorite meal of the departed loved ones and sometimes have little skeleton figurines depicting the person. What a great tradition. I had a fun conversation about this with my mother and daughters, when we were all together recently, and it led to a wonderful trip down memory lane, recalling family dinners and what was everyone’s favorite dish as well as what a depiction of that person would look like. For example my grandfather’s skeleton would need to hold a golf club, have a hand of cards (he loved poker), have on an Auburn hat and his favorite dish would be any kind of dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My grandmother would be depicted with a cute pocketbook, a skillet and a basket of flowers as she loved to cook and garden and her favorite dish would be cheese grits or fried chicken (typical southerner). You get the drift. It really made us laugh and recall good times about the family and friends that are no longer with us. It also prompted a fun discussion about what our own depictions might look like and what our favorite meal would be.

I think we should pick a day to honor and celebrate with a meal that will bring to life stories, remembrances, and good times of these loved persons! It may not be the healthiest of food but it sure will feed the soul:)

Take care and be well,