Several articles in the last two editions of the paper have referred to the customs surrounding Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) as “quirky.” In my opinion, this is culturally insensitive, and more than a little demeaning.
While I’m sure these traditions may seem strange to tourists or new expats, they are rooted in ancient practices, and are thoroughly ingrained into the Mexican culture. While ostensibly the living are waiting for the dead to return to earth for one night a year, in reality, it is a practical manifestation of the attitude that a person doesn’t really die until there’s no one left to remember them.
These practices are a way of keeping the memory of dearly departed relatives alive for as long as possible. They are celebratory remembrances wherein the living reminisce fondly about their loved ones who are no longer here. In this way, they are brought back to earth for one more night, and will continue to live in the hearts and memories of those they left behind.
There is something so fundamentally right about this, that those of us from other cultures would do well to pay attention, and maybe learn something that we can incorporate into our own lives for our betterment and enrichment.
Definitely no more “quirky” than high school proms or tailgating parties in the parking lot of a sports stadium.