Individuals connect to loved ones through the Day of the Dead

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Altars display offerings for people’s dead ancestors. Barton took this photo while on his mission in Mexico. “The Day of the Dead,” or “Día de los Muertos,” is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2 where Mexicans honor their dead ancestors. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Barton)

The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2 where Mexicans honor their dead ancestors. 

This day is celebrated by “ofrendas,” or offerings, with food, pictures, and other unique and meaningful items to the people they are remembering. 

Angela Alcala, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, has been celebrating it for the past three years. Alcala explained having mixed emotions attached to this holiday.

“It’s the time of the year where I feel most connected to my loved ones. Happy to be able to celebrate them and the life they lived, but sad that they are no longer here,” Alcala said.

Alcala shared how important it is to not forget our loved ones, even though they are no longer here. It is the living ones’ responsibility to keep their ancestors’ spirits and souls alive. 

“There is a saying that says only those who are forgotten truly leave us. We honor them and the life they had and let them know we love them and continuously think about them. It’s a way for us to show our love to them and stay connected,” Alcala said. 

Zachary Barton, who served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Mexico Pachuca Mission, described the scenery of the Day of the Dead.

“In one town I was in, it was common to have a pathway of yellow flower petals that marked the way from the street into the ofrenda in their house,” Barton said. “They also had a huge parade with tons of fun costumes and music.”

Barton said the decorations, food and parades utilize many colors. “Which makes the towns look really beautiful everywhere you go,” he said.

A cookie with a skull design is part of Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. “The Day of the Dead,” or “Día de los Muertos,” is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2 where Mexicans honor their dead ancestors. (Courtesy of Zachary Barton)

Barton said he had never celebrated Día de los Muertos before serving his mission but was struck by how much this holiday meant to the Mexican people. He said the stories and things people remembered about their ancestors was astonishing.  

“I was really impressed with the people who celebrated the holiday,” Barton said. “You can tell they are very devoted to their loved ones even after death which I think is really special.”

However, not all of Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead. Alana Miller, from Southern California, did not grow up celebrating this holiday. 

“My family is from a different part of Mexico and they never celebrated it so I never grew up celebrating it,” Miller said. 

Barton said in his experience, the holiday is celebrated in smaller, more traditional towns in Mexico. Alcala also said it is more popular in southern regions where the Aztecs originated from.

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