Hallowe’en doesn’t do much for me, but I am always moved by Día de los Muertos, which is today.
Día de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions. It is also celebrated by people of Mexican ancestry living in the United States and elsewhere. It grows out of All Saints’ Day, the Christian-calendar reason we celebrate Hallowe’en. During this holiday, which is more than one day long, families and friends gather to pray for and remember people who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.
Writing at Feministing, Barbara Sostaita reminds us that celebrating Día de Los Muertos is a political action.
Over 10,000 people have died since the 1990s trying to cross the Mexico-U.S. border as a result of inhumane and unjust government policies. Police brutality and violence claims the lives of Black people in this country every day. Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria death toll continues to rise. We may never know how many people state apathy killed, as the bodies of hurricane victims are being burned.
For immigrants and Latinx people viewed as disposable in the eyes of the state, Día de los Muertos — a traditional Mexican holiday that’s underway this week — is deeply political. The parades and parties, calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons), altars and art that make up this holiday serve as a communion with the dead, a celebration of life, and an expression of cultural memory. …
This year, Mexico’s Day of the Dead parade is honoring earthquake victims. As you celebrate Día de los Muertos, remember this is an important day not only for Mexicans and Latinx in this country, but also for U.S. political history as a whole.
The dead are always with us, but this year it feels like they are everywhere: shot at country music gatherings, run over by cars driven by angry men, unable to survive prison, killed for being black, being brown, being trans, being queer, being alive and not fitting the supremacist narrative that threatens to overtake us.
I’m not Mexican. I’m not gathering with my family or friends to pray for and remember those who have died. But the dead are in my heart, and in your heart. And the people gathering today to remember their loved ones and guide them are in my heart as well.
Vaya con dios.