With Dia De Los Muertos fast approaching, it’s important to recognize that things will be different this year.
As exciting as it is that most of the festivities fall over the weekend, we know that things won’t be back to business as usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s some more helpful information on how to avoid becoming one of those statistics while keeping your family safe this fall holiday season.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE DAY OF THE DEAD
Although Texas has a strong Hispanic community that celebrates Dia De Los Muertos, many of us may not know its roots. Día De Los Muertos translates as “Day of the Dead”.
Here in the US, when one of our loved ones passes away, we mourn them with funeral services and in solemn, dark clothing. Generally, when we have to say goodbye to loved ones forever, it is a sad moment in our families.
A culture that has created a unique and interesting way of dealing with death and the deceased is the Mexican culture. Mexico is colorful, loud and lots of fun. The people, the food and the celebrations are brilliant, strong and unmatched. So when it comes to death, in true Mexican style, Mexicans celebrate with lots of colors, food, and music.
The Day of the Dead is a two-day celebration, on the first and second days of November, where it is believed that the passageway between the real world and the spirit world is open so that our deceased loved ones can visit us again. What do we do when grandpa returns from the land of the dead? We make his favorite food and offer him his favorite drink. We sing and dance and rejoice before he returns to the underworld for another year.
HOW IT’S CELEBRATED IN TEXAS
Today’s customs regarding the Day of the Dead festivities have morphed over the years to become the distinctive tradition that it is now.
Families will gather overnight in cemeteries (pantheons) or in their backyard, light candles and place flowers at the burial sites of their lost loved ones. There is festive music and definitely no crying or mourning. This is a thoughtful and lively gathering to pay homage to the lives of the departed and to once again celebrate all human life and experiences.
The traditions surrounding Dia De Los Muertos are rich in cultural influences and faithful to the Mexican style that is not without color or substance. See below for more information below on customs and traditions.
The Aztecs used to offer water and food to the deceased to help them on their journey to the land of the dead. Now, Mexican families set up beautifully decorated altars in their homes and place photos of lost loved ones along with other items.
Offerings generally consist of water, the loved one’s favorite foods and drinks, flowers, bread, and other things that celebrate the life of the deceased person.
Marigold flowers are used during Day of the Dead celebrations by being placed on altars and burial sites. Marigold flowers are thought to draw spirits back with their intense color and pungent odor.
Calaveras are a big part of the celebrations. Calaveras were used during rituals in the Aztec era and were passed down as trophies during battles.
Today, during the Day of the Dead, small decorated sugar skulls are placed on the altars. There is nothing grim about these skulls. They are decorated with colorful edible paint, glitter, beads, and huge smileys.
The skulls and skeletons (calacas) that are so prominent in today’s festivities were produced in the early 19th century when cartoonist and social activist José Guadalupe Posada drew La Catrina to protest the desire of the Mexican people to appear more European. La Catrina has become one of the biggest symbols of the Day of the Dead with people painting their faces with skulls and flowers.
Papel picado means perforated paper and is an integral part of Mexican culture. The art comes from the Aztec tradition of carving spiritual figures on wood. It is used during the Day of the Dead celebrations by lighting them on the altars and in the streets. Offerings display fire, water, earth and air. Papel picados represents the air on the altar.
ALL ABOUT FOOD
Mexico knows food! In Mexico there is no celebration without food. Customary foods are prepared during Día De Los Muertos and shared with family, neighbors, strangers, and visiting spirits.
Pan de Muertos, or Day of the Dead bread, is an essential part of the festivities and is also placed on altars. Sugar skulls are enjoyed by the young and old during this time as well. Mole, tamales, pozole and Aztec soup are prepared by families with recipes passed down from generation to generation.
CITY OF AUSTIN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FALL CELEBRATIONS
The City of Austin Public Health Department released a statement in late September advising everyone to follow the CDC’s suggested guidelines when it comes to Dia De Los Muertos and other fall festivities.
However, the Department of Public Health released an accompanying statement, acknowledging that the city is only in Stage 3 of recovery and that it could change before October 31.
Austin Public Health provided the following statement:
It is also important to remember that as we enter the fall months that COVID-19 will not be the only respiratory illness spreading, we will also see flu season begin to pick up so we need everyone six months of age and older plan to get a flu shot in late October to prevent a potentially devastating wave of two illnesses at the same time. For more information on the flu, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/Flu.”
COVID-19 SAFETY TIPS ON AUSTIN, TEXAS DAY OF THE DEAD
The CDC also offered some specific guidance on how to safely enjoy Dia De Los Muertos, given that you and your family have not been exposed to and/or are not currently active with COVID-19, something that is particularly important in the area of Austin, TX.
LOW RISK ACTIVITIES
- Prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them in a way that does not involve contact with others.
- Play music in your home that your deceased loved ones enjoyed.
- Make and decorate masks or make an altar for the deceased.
- Put pillows and blankets in your house for the deceased.
- Join a virtual gathering celebration.
MEDIUM RISK ACTIVITIES
The following are medium risk, but the CDC has additional advice on how to make these options even safer.
- Have a small group outdoor, outdoor parade where people are spaced more than 6 feet apart.
- Visiting and decorating graves of loved ones with household members only and maintaining more than 6 feet of distance from others who may be in the area.
- Hosting or attending a small dinner party with local family and friends outdoors where people are spaced more than 6 feet apart. Reduce your risk by following the CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or kitchens
HIGH RISK ACTIVITIES
The CDC recommends avoiding these types of activities altogether, as they violate CDC guidelines on gatherings, regardless of vacation.
- Attend large celebrations indoors with songs.
- Participate in large meetings or events indoors.
- Having a big dinner with people from different households coming from different geographic locations.
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.
YOU CAN COUNT ON YOUR FRIENDS AT THE LAW OFFICE OF GLEN F. LARSON
At the Law Firm of Glen F. Larson, you can count on us to be dedicated to you, tirelessly working on your case, and getting results.
Our attorneys have extensive experience working with pedestrian accidents, and since the start of the pandemic, we have handled a number of unique cases for those exposed to COVID-19.
Please set up a free consultation with our firm today if you have been injured as a pedestrian or exposed to COVID-19 due to someone else’s negligence.