Dia De Los Muertos: I’m Not Mexican but, Why Not Celebrate the Dearly Departed?

Skeletons Aren’t Supposed to Be Scary for Dia De Los Muertos.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Hola Meltingpot Readers,

Happy Dia De Los Muertos! Even though it may sound incongruous to wish someone a happy ‘day of the dead,’ it’s actually quite fitting. Traditionally, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous celebration filled with good food, family gatherings and sweet treats. Essentially it is a single day dedicated to remembering family and loved ones who have died, with a spirit of celebration instead of mourning. No, I didn’t grow up celebrating Dia de los Muertos and neither did el esposo (although it is celebrated in Spain) but it’s a tradition I’m trying to incorporate into our Kinky Gazpacho family.

Because we’re not Mexican, I’m not going to co-opt the sugar skulls and specific Mexican foods and plants as part of our celebration. Instead, I will co-opt the general idea of taking this day to remember our family and friends who have died. We already have an ancestor altar in our house, so we will spruce it up, maybe add some Halloween treats and flowers and tell stories about our loved ones. I think this will help keep their memories alive for my kids, and in a lot of ways it takes some of the pain and finality out of death. With the hectic pace of our adult lives, I also think it’s a great way for el esposo and I to take a moment to remember our grandmothers, aunts and uncles who have recently passed.

I’m not going to lie, dear readers. I love any excuse for a party and I’m a big believer in ritual and myth, so adding a ‘new’ holiday to our calendar is always appealing. Of course, I like to find some connection to my own cultural traditions, so I was happy to note that Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in countries all over the world, from Haiti to Poland. So, I feel okay in claiming it. I’ve given myself the green light and cleared myself of any possible accusation of cultural appropriation. But do you still think it’s okay if I serve tacos tonight?

I’m kidding. And I’m listening. Do you celebrate Dia de Los Muertos? What do your celebrations look like?


P.S. If any of you readers live in the Chicago area, you should definitely stop by the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference going on now and throughout the weekend. It’s totally free to attend and although it sounds kind of academic, there will be a mini Mixed Roots Film festival running as part of the conference. It’s free, so why not check it out. I know I would.

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6 Thoughts to “Dia De Los Muertos: I’m Not Mexican but, Why Not Celebrate the Dearly Departed?”

  1. Wendy

    Sorry to flood your board, but I remembered about Colombia’s first black president, Juan José Nieto Gil. There is a good blog post about him here (in English) http://raisingcolombiankids.blogspot.com/2011/05/first-afrocolombian-president.html

    His story involves ending slavery and literally the whitening of his photos.

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      This is so perfect and helpful for my research. Thank you!

  2. Wendy

    I’m sure you’ve seen this, “Chris Rock’s message for white people”!


    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      No I hadn’t seen this. Perfect!

  3. Wendy

    I love el día de los muertos for the reasons that you said! I have not incorporated into our family. Today, Nov 2nd, is adoption day in our family. Its the day we first met our daughter and held her for the first time. I did talk to my daughter about el día de los muertos because she was upset that it said “Day of the Dead” (mostly the word DEAD) on her calendar, on HER ADOPTION DAY! The talk made me remember how much I liked the concept of honoring those you lost, celebrating their memory and the things that they loved! You never really lose those close to you as the stay with you forever!

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      It’s not ‘funny’ but your daughter’s response to Day of the Dead on ‘her day,’ made me laugh. As always, thanks for sharing.

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