Off Script: Honoring and celebrating our loved ones

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Photo by Rosemary Hemenway

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Día de los Muertos is a special time of the year where we celebrate and honor our ancestors and loved ones who have died. It’s officially celebrated from Nov. 1 through Nov. 2 as a two day celebration, usually depending on the culture and community you grew up in.

My family heritage is Filipino, Mexican and white, and I was raised by families ranging from different backgrounds and cultures. Although Día de los Muertos is generally associated with Mexican culture, I also experienced it in Filipino homes as well. 

Although I do not personally go all out with an ofrenda set up, I have concerns regarding putting favorite foods out with pets and children, it is one of my favorite celebrations of the year. I have a shelf with photos of both sets of my grandparents dancing because it shows them vibrant and with genuine smiles on their faces. 

We are also working on a pets shelf with photos of our beloved furry family members who have died. My daughters also love creating home-made decorations to put up on our shelves around our photos. The love and care that goes into the creation touches the soul.

While the ofrendas and altars honoring loved ones are up year round in homes, Día de los Muertos is a time to celebrate and remember them with flair. The belief is that on Nov. 2 (All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead) the spirits of our loved ones can rejoin their families for 24 hours.

I was so excited in 2018 when the Winters Hispanic Advisory Committee launched the first Día de los Muertos community celebration in Winters. I wasn’t able to attend, but the photos taken by one of our staff members made me feel happy inside.

The symbolism and intentional efforts are both heartwarming and soul touching. The marigolds help lead the way and brightly colored papel picado banners allows a passage for souls to travel and visit. One of my favorite traditions is seeing the food and treats that others loved most. To me, these favorite foods give me the opportunity to hear stories and memories about them.

Councilmember Jesse Loren told me that this year the Winters HAC is going to be setting up tables for alters downtown. She also said that on Nov. 2, El Pueblo Meat Market & Taqueria will be serving hot chocolate and traditional pastries from 4 p.m to 6 p.m. (while supplies last).

I’m hoping that I’ll be done with the edition in time to go downtown to see some of the ofrendas and to partake in the celebration. I hope you’ll take some time to go downtown to join in too.

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