Today is dia de los muertos / day of the dead, a Mexican holiday where people come together to pay their respects and to remember friends and family who have died. I’ve been fascinated with Mexico and their culture and traditions since I was lucky enough to go on holiday there in the early 1990s.
Dia de los muertos is a joyful celebration. Rather than mourning the deceased, it provides an opportunity to remember them and celebrate their lives. In the UK, I think we have an unhealthy relationship with death and grief. We mourn for those who have gone, allowing sadness of them being gone and the impact that has on our lives taking over from remembering the good times and what they brought to the world.
Of course it’s sad when someone dies, especially when it happens earlier than anyone would ever expect or hope to die, but life does and has to go on, and I fear we dwell on their departure, which I believe none of the people in my life who have died would’ve wanted.
I’ve had a long term, dare I say it, obsession with death ever since my first memory of a family friend dying when I was a child. I remember wanting to be able to ask her what happens when you die, when of course that’s not possible. I’m not religious but I am spiritual, and I love the idea that these celebrations bring the souls of the deceased back to us.
While I’ve not, to date, followed any of the traditions of dia de los muertos, I do like to use the day as a time to think of my friends and family who I so dearly miss and remember the good times we had, and what they would think of me and my life now, the advice they would give and what they’d say about the state of the world.
On Saturday I headed over to Columbia Road for their annual (I believe) dia de los muertos festival. Whilst I know that dressing up isn’t something that is necessarily part of the traditional celebrations, for me it was such a positive experience seeing the colour and joy of this holiday, demonstrating the way it can bring a community together in a positive way. I’ll share some more photos from the event when I get round to editing them – story of my life!
I’m still learning about the history of dia de los muertos and how it is celebrated, so I don’t pretend to know everything about it, but it’s a holiday that resonates with me and something that I believe we can all learn from