By Gabriela Olivas, Skyline Reporter

The Day of the Dead is an important celebration in Mexican culture. It is a time when family gets together to honor and celebrate the lives of our beloved family members who have departed. In my original home of Ojinaga, The Day of the Dead is a lively and joyful commemoration celebrated with food, music, bright colors, and altars. My family gets together every year at the cemetery, as do plenty of other families, and we spend the entire day remembering our family members who have passed away. On Saturday, November 2nd, I visited Ojinaga, Chihuahua, to celebrate the Day of the Dead with my family.

Vendors preparing baskets of flowers for placements at graves.

 

Flowers are significant symbols at the Day of the Dead. Marigolds are typically used to be placed either on altars or spread across the graves of family members. Many vendors prepare different baskets of flowers; others sell them separately. Every vendor offers copious and varied arrangements and single flowers for Ojinagans to choose from to honor their deceased.

 

During the Day of the Dead celebrations, musicians wander around the cemetery, ready to sing and play tunes for families to enhance their celebrations of lives well lived. Families can request a song they would like to hear, and many of us find ourselves heartily  singing along. The musicians move from grave to grave and family to family—all of us enjoying the musical notes as they float through the cemetery.

The grave of my grandfather, Jose Ines Olivas, decorated with multi-colored flowers

Besides remembering and honouring our loved ones, another pragmatic reason for celebrating the Day of the Dead in the cemetery is so that, as a family, we can work together to spruce up the grave sites and, once again, decorate them. This, in itself, is part of the commemoration and tradition, made more lovely because it is achieved together.

 

Throughout the year, weeds begin to grow in the ground, decorations and commemorations fade, and dirt of our desert landscape spreads everywhere.

After weeding, sweeping, and straightening, flowers and other decorations are replaced with new, and then water is splashed on top to freshen and stave off the ever-present wind’s covering our graves with sand.

Families will spend precious time this day next to the graves of their family members, talk about the past and its stories in remembrance of our departed. The Day of the Dead is a celebration for the lives our family members lived and a reminder that, although they are no longer with us, their memories live on in our hearts.