Learning About el Día de Los Muertos

October 29, 2020

My parents were first-generation here. So when they came and I was very, very little, I knew nothing about Halloween or besides Christmas and the other holidays that were from here. I’m from Puerto Rico. So the first couple of years, I’ve seen my mother, around Halloween, lighting candles and praying. So, I’m listening to her say these prayers and everything. But I was very young and, you know, I didn’t ask questions. But as I got older and went to school and started celebrating Halloween, I realized that there was still that day when she would … It was usually the day after Halloween that she would light these candles and pray.

It took me until I was like 12 and I asked her, “Mom why are you doing that?” And she told me, “Well from our culture, we celebrate something called el Día de los Muertos, which means the Day of the Dead, where you celebrate their life. We light a candle for them to let them see their way through to heaven. You know, it’s a tradition that you do these things.” And I learned about it that first year for the first time when I was 12. And it was so memorable to me that after that year, the next year when I was 13, I myself got the candles, and lit them, and said the prayers because I have studied about it during the year and realized that it was important to my Puerto Rican culture.

So I started this tradition on my own when I turned 13. Yes. I’m gonna light my candles on November 1st. It’s not only a tradition, it’s part of our religion, I’m Catholic, that we remember the dead on that day. So, you know, light candles, pray for them that they have a good afterlife and things like that. I still do it. And when I was told about the tradition, I did all of this research on my own.

I kept up my Spanish. I’m one of five children, and I am the only one that is fluent in Spanish. Tradition and culture were very important to me from a very early age. My father was very happy to see that I was interested, especially in keeping the language and the traditions because he saw that my siblings, none of them were interested. So when he saw that I was serious about it, he was very happy to sit with me, to teach me how to speak the language properly.

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