Healthy Remembrance: Diá de los Muertos

healthy-remembrance

As soon as Halloween ends, the day (or actually, days) of the dead begins! In Mexico, November 1st is “el Diá de los Inocentes” (the day of the children) and November 2nd is All Soul’s Day. On these two days, it is believed that the gates of heaven are opened so the spirits of children can rejoin their families on November 1st and the spirits of adults can rejoin their families the following day, according to History.com. We consider this to be a day of Healthy Remembrance!

How are these days celebrated? Take a look at this amazing list of traditions!

  • Ofrendas, or ‘offerings’ in the form of altars, are designed with candles, flowers (especially marigolds), photos, water, favorite foods, and belongings of the deceased.
  • The scent of the marigolds are believed to guide the spirits as they come for their visit
  • Calaveras, Sugar Skulls, are decorated with the name of the deceased and items such as ribbon, feathers, beads, and icing
  • Specific regions have specific traditions, according to Family Search, with some using bells, dances, or blankets and pillows to further welcome the spirits
  • Pan de muertos, or bread of the dead, is traditionally eaten and most families will gather for a feast of the favorite foods of the deceased and a chance to share stories

What are some other fun ways to celebrate this special holiday, especially when being vigilant of COVID-19 concerns?

  • Writing stories down or recording them, if possible, would make a wonderful family heirloom and give everyone the chance to celebrate even if the family is social distancing
  • Grave cleaning and decorating can be a great outdoor activity for groups
  • Families can paint their faces and dress up as Catrinas, even if attending the parades are not an option
  • Sugar skull decorating can be a fun tradition even if the gathering is small and social distanced

Memorializing helps those who are still alive to not only remember the person who is gone but also our connection to that person. Psychology Today said “It is a heavy burden to bear the responsibility for preserving the memory of the one we loved into an indefinite future beyond our own life. Sharing the memory frees us to return our attention to the living and to begin living in a world without their physical presence.” Celebrations like the Day of the Dead can help the living return to living after the passing of a loved one. Healthy Remembrance is an important aspect of mental health.

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