Celebrating Halloween and Día de Muertos with my Bicultural Familia

Alfeñique MamalatinatipsOn Day of the Dead, my family members in Mexico rise early to buy the most beautiful flowers they can find and take them to the cemetery. They clean up the graves of ancestors who’ve passed and decorate them with the new, fresh flowers.

Maybe surprisingly, Day of the Dead feels like a party — and it is. It is both sacred and festive. It’s a happy celebration with upbeat music, vibrant colors, and delicious smells. The cemetery is packed with people, and music reverberates off the headstones as musicians play and sing.

After the cemetery, my family heads to the church for a Mass for the Dead, where they pray for the souls of those who’ve passed. Then, they all head to Grandma’s house for comida.

Many families create altares de muertos, some large, some small, some in black and white, and others in vibrant colors. Each family does it in its own way. Ours usually includes photos, candles, food, water, cempazúchitl flowers, salt, sugar skulls, and papel picado. Catrina mamalatinatips

In the United States, Halloween is fun for my family, too. My sons anxiously await October. It makes them happy seeing pumpkins ripening in the fields and spying spider and bat decorations popping up on homes in the neighborhood. They know Halloween is near, and they start getting their costumes ready for the spooky night.

How does my family celebrate both holidays?

If you, like me, live in a multicultural or possibly a bilingual family, you’ll understand why it interests me to keep both customs alive in my family. I want my sons to have the best of both worlds, and that includes celebrating to the fullest all holidays traditionally celebrated on both sides of the family. Therefore, just as we speak “Spanglish” at times in our home, we also sometimes blend our celebrations.

So, this is what we plan to do this year:

  • First, we will prepare a simple altar de muertos to honor and celebrate our loved ones who’ve passed.

  • We’ll decorate our home with pumpkins and bats, but also with papel picado, catrinas, and candles.

  • We’ll go to the annual Cub Scout Halloween party, but we’ll dress up so as to honor both traditions. My husband and I will wear costumes and makeup representing El Catrín y La Catrina, and my sons will go one as a ghost and a pumpkin head.

  • We’ll chat with our sons about both traditions and show them how they can have the best of both worlds by, on the one hand, making a Halloween costume, while on the other, decorating a photo frame where a photo of a passed loved one will go, and then be given the place of honor on the altar de muertos.

The best part about living in a bicultural family is having the best of both worlds!

¿Cómo celebrarás tu?

How will you celebrate?


Mama Latina Tips Logo for Dia de Muertos Silvia cooks yummy Mexican food, plays with her kids, and takes pictures at  Read Silvia’s Disney Adventures in Español at Disneylandiaaldia.comFollow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and Facebook.


Article Posted 3 years Ago
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