Once upon a time, a long time ago, Tejas was a part of Mexico and though Texas is now a part of the United States – the traditions live on.
Dia de los Muertos is a Latin American tradition that is most associated with the Mexican culture, because the celebration originated in Mexico through the combination of culture of the indigenous Aztecs and Spanish conquistadores. This is easily one of the most beautiful celebrations in my personal opinion, as a Mexican American and a hospice social worker, I am a firm believer that the dead should be celebrated and honored. Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, honors those who have passed on both November 1st and 2nd through parties, festivals, parades, food, alters, and offerings. November 1st is Dia de los Inocentes, which celebrates children who have died & November 2nd is the official Dia de los Muertos which celebrates adults who have died.
How can you bring such a beautiful cultural tradition into your home?
Create an ofrenda
This is a space for photos of your loved ones who have died, decorated with bright orange marigolds, candles, salt, their favorite foods, drinks, sugar skulls, and other items your loved ones may have enjoyed. Our ofrenda has beautiful photos of our loved ones along with a Corona, salt, lots of bright colors (because we are celebrating, not mourning), a candle, a crochet needle, cigarillos, and on the day I will add pan (bread) de muerto and cafecito (little coffee). We are missing our Marigolds – I am hoping ours sprout by then, but if not I will buy some as these flowers and the salt help to guide the souls back to the land of the living.
Decorate your Loved Ones Grave
If you have lost a child you can go to their grave and decorate it with beautiful white orchids, baby’s breath, toys, and blankets. If you have lost an adult you can honor them by decorating their graves with their favorite items and bright orange marigolds.
Attend a local Dia de los Muertos celebration
- October 30, 8A-8P – Not going out? That’s totally okay! We found a virtual event for you! The Atlanta History Centerhas partnered with the Consul General of Mexico & the Institute of Mexican Culture to provide a virtual series of how-to videos, short films, playlists, book recommendations, and more. Learn more here.
- October 30, 6-9P – The Latino Cultural Center of Dallas will be continuing their annual celebration COVID style – social distancing and mandatory masks. While this is a free event, you must reserve your free ticket online as this event has limited space. Reserve your ticket here.
- October 31, 10A-10P – The Patios at the Rails in Frisco, Texas, will be hosting their first Dia de los Muertos celebration. Bring your kids and enjoy all the fun! Purchase tickets & learn more here.
- October 31, 11A – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will hold a Day of the Dead celebration and concert, more information and ticket purchases can be found here.
- November 1, 5-7P – FREE Dia de los Muertos celebration in Grand Prairie with a butterfly release. Masks are mandatory. More info can be found on the Facebook event page.
- November 2, 5-9P – Taqueria La Ventana in Downtown Dallas will be hosting a Dia de los Muertos celebration with live music, drink specials, and more. Masks will be required if you are not eating.
YES, you are reading that right, the Disney movie. This movie is a phenomenal representation of Day of the Dead traditions and at a level that children can grasp. My culture sees death as a natural part of life and I urge you to consider teaching your children this as well. Check out this beautiful ofrenda full of photos, candles, offerings, and Cempasuchil (Marigolds) from the movie Coco. Like I said, this is a MUST watch to educate on this amazing cultural celebration.
How will my family spend Dias de los Muertos?
This year, my eldest is old enough to grasp understanding of traditions, so I set up a large offenda, which I will place pan de muerto (most likely store bought) and cafecito on. Since, I will work during the day, I’ll print some coloring pages from Pinterest for my son of sugar skulls. We will eat pork tamales, pan de dulce, & pan de muerto. We will pray for our loved ones on the ofrenda and then we will watch Coco, because this is a very kid friendly way to explain our culture.
JUST BECAUSE, this ISN’T your culture does NOT mean that you can’t celebrate! Did you have a loved one pass this year? Set up an ofrenda with offerings and let that loved one come visit on Dia de los Muertos. Celebrate and honor them. Bring culture into your home! Teach your children to be culturally competent. If you have any questions about how to celebrate – comment below & I will personally reach out.
About the Author
Lauren is a mom of two kids, Wyatt (4) & Audrey (8 mo) … & the fur baby, also known as the OG, Luna Bella. (Oh & Mustard the fish). She is married to one heck of a guy, Troy, who she met in college. She has a Bachelors in Behavioral Analysis and a Masters in Social Work, currently she is navigating the life of a full time working mom as a hospice social worker for Centric, but has also juggled the jobs of stay at home mom & work at night mom. She is the red playgroup coordinator and a member of the yellow playgroup. She loves cold brew, crafting, reading, and margarita nights with the hubs.