Today is November 1, and if I was living in the United States right now, it would be just a normal autumn day for people to recuperate after Halloween, but in Latin America, something new is celebrated. Di De Los Muertos translates to Day of the Dead. Sounds a little morbid right? Actually, after experiencing the celebrations today, I found it to be very beautiful and interesting.
Day of the dead is a time when business close, families spend the day together, and the lives of those who passed away are celebrated. This morning during my class, my teacher took me to the cemetery in Antigua to see the festivities and learn about the culture. Normally a cemetery is a solemn place where people go to mourn their loss. Today I thought there was a festival going on with the amount of people, noise, and activity. Walking up to the entrance of the cemetery, there were vendors selling carnival food, snacks, and drinks. People were walking in with handfuls and bouquets of flowers to place on the grave sites, and music was playing in all areas of the cemetery.
A cemetery in Guatemala is different from those in the United States. Instead of having the graves under the ground, people buy small buildings to use as their grave site and are placed inside like a tomb. The decoration is very elaborate and the buildings are large and tall. Today, families came with crowns and bouquets of flowers to place on the grave sites where they then ate their lunch, sang songs, listened to music, and celebrated the lives of those who were gone. I imagined this day to be filled with sadness and despair, but from what I could see, that was not the case at all.
Additionally, giant kites are often flown in the cemetery in order to signify the connection from Heaven to Earth to allow those who died a day of passage to visit their loved ones. These giant kites are made in advance with specific colors to signify different meanings.
I was excited to be able to take part in this experience and I think that it is a great way to celebrate the lives of those who are gone.