By Saira Athie
Yes! I love the dead… Especially when it comes dressed like a party queen, when it smells like flowers, when she invites me to eat pumpkin and to drink mescal in a table with candles. On November 2nd of each year, families throughout Latin America, and now many in the United States, celebrate The Day of the Dead.
I celebrate the “dead” every year. I love it because of my mother Laura, taught me the tradition when I was a child, that the dead is a friend, not an enemy. “The dead likes to be invited to our house,” she used to say, ‘we must honor her’. So every November we would organize a party for that mystery woman dressed in black.
My sisters and I helped with preparations. Before the moon came out, we put out glasses with water, peppers, photographs of our most beloved people, one black dog, salt, a large tree branch and various celebration dishes such as chocolate, Tequila, yellow flowers called cempasúchil, copal incense and two very special components for the only “Dead party” celebrated in all the world: sugar skulls called “Calaveritas”, and cut paper in different colors with several figures on it.
My mom used to bake a traditional bread with a secret recipe. The bread was the “master piece” of the party: “The Dead’s Bread” (Pan de muerto), with a sugar coat, wearing thin pieces of sweet bones on the top, awaiting the arrival of midnight in the middle of the table.
None of us were permitted to eat until the next day. Despite some childhood nightmares, I love the Dead, because of “her” my two sisters and I: Laura and Paloma, used to have one of the most beautiful Mexicans traditions every year. Because of “her”, we learned the secret “Pan de Muerto”recipe. All because of that celebration called: “The day of the Dead” (El Día de Muertos). El Día de Muertos is more spectacular and colorful than any other celebration in the world, and it connects us with the ancient inhabitants of my great country: Mexico.
The Día de Muertos is a traditional and very ancient Mexican celebration from the Mesoamerican cultures. It has been celebrated for centuries on November first and second. The first day is dedicated to all the children we have lost, and the second, to the adult people that no longer live on this earth. Honoring the dead with flowers, music and dishes is a time to laugh and dance, not for crying. It is a time to remember that someday, our beloved dead ones and us, will be together again.
Saira Athie is the newest member of Team DATA and works with employee outreach and ridematching.