Echoes of Ancestors: Embracing Dia De Los Muertos Tradition | Day 305 of my 2023 Journal


Dia De Los Muertos!

As the society around us has been getting ready, the ghosts of our ancestors have been around:

My grandmothers.

The niece we lost without getting to know her.

My mother.

My step-dad.

It is not the sadness coming back; it is different. It is an acceptance, a presence, and a knowing. There is something after this rollercoaster of life; someone is waiting, watching over us.

We walked to the graveyard in Playa, away from the touristy area. It was sobering.

The contrast is immense. We walked through neighborhoods where the people live, who service all the tourism we are part of. Met stray dogs, street art, and street vendors before arriving at the decorated graveyard.

The first altar was for the pets, that is, for the dogs. A friendly guy burning the smoke explained to us that dogs are sacred here because only dogs know the way to pass from this world to the next; the dogs will come to help you find your way when you are dead.

We also visited the traditional altar, showing how it was done with levels for this world, the world of the dead, and the world of the gods.

Next was the altar for the children, where we had to sit with our hearts filled with the lost niece we never got to meet, thinking about all the other lost children and just breathing for a while.

Then the adults altar, having a moment for those we have lost.

The last one was a beautiful surprise. An altar for those who are forgotten.

Walking the graveyard, we learned about a different relation to the dead, the decoration culture, the flowers, candles, paper cutouts, food, and drink (a lot of beer).

As the light went, the bats came out, and we walked back through the city via the main road, an overstimulated experience of shops and people and street vendors and vehicles.

And I have not even talked about the dance. There was that too. Mayan traditional dance, full of energy and smoke and song and drums and fire show. And a fine explanation of how the traditional culture was merged with catholicism and how that has become the Day of the Dead. In Mexican Spanish, I almost understand.

With love


Cecilie Conrad

Thank you for reading
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