Reflections on Día de Muertos: There's Power in Cultura

The end of Día de Muertos 2022 is here. With that, we thought to share a reflection on this special day and season. From one Mexicana to you all, who have kindly shared your comments and experiences with us. We hope that with this reflection you learn more about us, and our cultura, and understand the BIG impact this community has had on us.

Before coming to the US, Día de Muertos was a beloved tradition for me. Although I did not fully understand the implications or cultural meaning behind it, I loved what would happen in my house during these days. The last week of October, my mom would take us to the mercado to get the essentials for the ofrenda. What I looked forward to the most where those clay calaveritas (sugar skulls) that had a string from the top connecting the jaw which would open, so that it looked like the calaverita could talk. I also loved being able to get actual sugar skulls with the name of our loved ones and, of course, my name on it to enjoy later. In the mercado, we would also get papel picado, cempasúchil, and any other chucherías que se nos pegara (knick knack that we added to the bag).

Going to the mercado, however, was only the beginning. We had a special corner in our house for the altar. There, we would gather boxes and books to make the levels and then cover it all with a large black tablecloth that would be the perfect background for the deshilado rebozos and table runners we had for this occasion.

The next step was decorating the ofrenda, which implicated adding pictures of those to who the altar was dedicated. This, I am still convinced, was my favorite part—even though I reeeally loved the calaveritas that could talk. Today I understand the reason I loved this part so much. For me, this moment felt like a family reunion.

My mom would place at the ofrenda one by one the pictures of my family; a picture of mi bisabuela Lola and mi abuela nena, then mi tio Enrique and mis abuelos. Each photo that was placed, would be accompanied by an explanation of who they were. But not their lineage or relation to me, it was a real-life picture of who my mother perceived them to be, with their personalities, flaws, and even anecdotes to prove what she meant.

From these moments, I learned that mi abuela loved her cats and dogs, so we would put treats and food out for them as they would, obviously, be accompanying her. Then mi abuelito would appear, but he had to be apart from mi abuela because he didn’t like cats, but we had to make sure to add a radio so that he could listen to the news and sports. Mi tio Enrique, on the other hand, would go in the center because we knew he could keep the peace between them all with his joyful spirit.

I learned so much about my family. I knew their favorite drinks: coca cola for all mis abuelitos y una Pácifico para mi tío. What were each of their favorite meals: mole, taquitos, ceviche, caldo de pollo, and dulces Coronado. Also, we had to add cigarettes for mi abuelo (which led to his death) because it would be the first thing he would look for, and don’t we dare forget about a lighter porque: “imagínate tener cigarros y no un encendedor con qué prenderlos! [imagine having cigarettes but not a lighter to light them]”.

But that was not all I learned. I learned a lot about my mom, who was grieving the loss of her family at different stages. I learned from my ancestry, mis abuelas y abuelos. I learned the mistakes they made and the ones they did not. I learned of their strength, but more importantly, I learned of their love.

I remember at one point being somewhat scared some nights by the altar with candles lit and my mom saying prayers and, of course, of ghosts visiting my house. However, this fear quickly went away as soon as my mom would explain the difference: these were not ghosts that wanted to scare me, these were mi familia that wanted to see me all grown up. My mom would explain to me that they loved me with all their heart and wanted nothing but for me to be happy.

It is only today that I understand that I grew up knowing my ancestors wanted me to succeed, to be happy, and to be well, without even realizing it. I know where I come from and can say that I got to meet my ancestors through the eyes of my mom.

This is the power of my cultura and tradición.

Many years later, I moved to the US and this practice was lost; not on purpose, but growing up, school, work, and life just got in the way. I spent fifteen years without honoring mis abuelas, abuelos, and mi tío like this (but not entirely as I still did it in other forms), and my mom did too, as she had no one left to share it with back home.

Currently, Lolo invited me to return to my roots and look (with a different lens, experience, and approach) into the meaning behind Día de Muertos and I could not feel more fulfilled. We have worked hard to get to research topics that not even I knew existed, and many have guided me in your interests and what to look for.

The appreciation for mi cultura is countless, and it is done with so much tact and respect. We have learned SO much from all of you, nuestra familia. From all the insightful questions; to the kindest, most loving words of appreciation for Día de Muertos; and, equally beautiful, the chance to be a part of your own remembrance, grief, and traditions growing up with this culture. Thank you, gracias, de todo corazón, for allowing us to read about your loved ones, about your experiences with Día de Muertos, and about your profound interest in our cultura. Thank you, also, for those that join us in finding part of their own cultura here, too, reminding us that Mexico está en el corazón.

One of the missions of Lolo is to share as much as we can about our cultura and the products we offer. When coming up with our Día de Muertos Collection and cultural promotion strategy, we took a long time to research and communicate with artisans as much as we could to understand every item better. In that same path, we worked hard to communicate what Día de Muertos meant and the thousands of varying practices behind them.

That is what we tried to bring you this year: a piece of our cultura, with the participation of talented artisans across Mexico, and our best attempt to communicate the varying traditions of this beautiful holiday. Hopefully, we succeeded in our delivery, and you are happy with what you found here this year. This is only a reflection to thank you all so deeply for your support this Día de Muertos season and to wish you all happy upcoming holidays! See you around?

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We would love your feedback and suggestions on anything you found at Lolo, good or bad. Remember that we are a small, family-owned business and every word from you is treated like gold here!

So, what do you think? What products are you sure would like to see next year? Any particular topics? What other interests do you have? Let us know in the comments below, we love reading them and are still looking for a way to publicly reply to them with a notification!

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8 comments

Larisa

Larisa

Beautifully written. Love it!

Catherine Prevost

Catherine Prevost

For several years my husband and I have traveled to Mexico for Dia de Muertos.
We just returned from Guanajuato where we found the festivities more lively than in past years. Music, food and ofrendas filled the city.
I appreciate your first-person blog about your heritage. Gracias.

Bel-Ami Margoles

Bel-Ami Margoles

I REALLY love reading your blogs! And I adore my: masks, dog collar, clay heart with butterflies! My grandmother and her siblings grew up as the only Anglo kids in their “town” and she stayed close with many of her childhood friends whose homes were safe places for her. She celebrated a mix of Dia de los Muertos and Samhain (the European holiday at the same time). It was my favorite festival for many of the reasons Ms Campos mentioned, and remains so to this day. I love that feeling of connection with my ancestors and so do my now grown children.

Mercedes Garcia

Mercedes Garcia

I loved reading the blogs you posted on Dia De Los Muertos. I added to the knowledge that I already knew which was not a whole lot. Thank you for posting the blog
Don’t stop keep teaching us more about our culture.

Jackie Delgadillo

Jackie Delgadillo

What a beautiful blogpost! I’ve now done 13 ofrendas for my husband Jorge. What a bittersweet but truly joyous day to celebrate his life and spirit!

Barbara

Barbara

Appreciate this well-expressed insight into honoring and appreciating ancestors and this Dia. We all experience loss. Sharing various ways to cope, with strength and grace, helps all. Thank you!

Chayo F. Zaldívar

Chayo F. Zaldívar

I am currently in Oaxaca and enjoying these festivities. Our family has always honored our ancestors and most specifically during Día de Muertos. Today is the last day of this celebration and we couldn’t have picked a better city than OAX! Next is Nov. 20th then on to the festivities for the month of Dec! Thank you for keeping it real! Sending you much energies and continued success in your endeavors.

Beverley Wood

Beverley Wood

Wonderful memories, thank you for sharing.

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