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West Michigan celebrates Dia de los Muertos

Dia de Muertos altar.jpg
Kylie Ambu/WGVU
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Día de Muertos altar

Dia de los Muertos is a holiday that originated in Mexico but is celebrated widely across Latin America. The two-day celebration honors the lives of loved ones who have died.

“Having that time to honor and make space for those who have passed really helps me for example to I guess accept the cycle of life. Just knowing that I can still carry my dad with me and having that time to honor him it means a lot to me,” she said.

Dia de los Muertos which translates to Day of the Dead is a holiday that honors and remembers loved ones who have passed on. Originating in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is heavily celebrated in Latin America, but an array of communities also take part in West and Southwest Michigan.

“Day of the dead for me is just honoring for me a loved ones who has passed. It’s a celebration of their life that they had lived,” Kayla Gonzalez, a preschool teacher with El Concilio said.

While holiday traditions can vary based on location, it’s common for people to celebrate with food, drinks and activities the dead enjoyed during their lifetime. Gonzalez said food in particular plays a big role for her family.

“As we’re making the food we’re actually telling the memories of let’s say my grandpa loved eating gallo pinto, we’ll talk about what he loved about it and as we’re cooking we’re telling the stories as well,” she explained.

Over the holiday, Gonzalez readies the altars or ofrendas that honor the deceased with photos, flowers, and lamps to guide their way. It’s believed that the dead awaken during Dia de los Muertos and connect with their loved ones.

“Since my dad has passed I use this opportunity to get with my family,” she explained, “…It’s very special because these memories that we exchange bring him back for a moment.”

Gonzalez told WGVU she’s still learning about some traditions herself over the holiday and said she’s thankful for an opportunity to keep memories and love for the dead alive.

“Having that time to honor and make space for those who have passed really helps me for example to I guess accept the cycle of life. Just knowing that I can still carry my dad with me and having that time to honor him it means a lot to me,” she said.

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