Translated by Jesús Ronquillo / Circuito Frontera
The aroma of cempasúchil becomes more intense, the cold weather announces the proximity of the deceased and the rush takes over those who prepare the altars.
This is a unique day when our deceased loved ones return from the dead and the path must be illuminated so they do not get lost.
It is a tradition deeply rooted in Mexican culture, a date on which it is believed that the dead return from the dead to visit their relatives.
It is not only a celebration, but also an opportunity to remember and keep alive the memory of those who are no longer physically with us.
This Mexican tradition is a custom for Bryan and his family, who year after year, raise their altar with candles, a bible, a rosary, the favorite dishes of the deceased and the typical pan de muerto.
While every candle, every pan de muerto and every flower are gestures that express the deep affection they feel for Don René, who passed away three years ago.
So, every November 2, he and his family visit the San Rafael cemetery, located on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, where they go to honor their stepfather.
There, they clean his grave, decorate it with flowers and tell him that they still have him in their hearts.
“I remember him as a good person, very cheerful, but with a strong character; a little bit angry, but always with a big heart. A very good person who gave everything he could give, without expecting anything in return,” said Bryan.
The young man said that he considers this date a special occasion, since it allows them to remember and feel the closeness of their loved one, although it also brings with it a feeling of sadness.
“Having him here with his photograph, flowers, candles, pan de muerto and water, everything necessary for my deceased relative to continue feeling loved, on the altar or in the cemetery,” he said.
For many border families, the Day of the Dead is a date that mixes love, joy, nostalgia, fear and pain. However, the cemeteries, far from being gloomy places, are full of life.
In many tombs you can see people hiring musical trios to play guitars and sing songs that the deceased used to like.
There are also some where hundreds of merchants place their businesses, where you can find food stalls, water, crafts, among others, but also flowers and ornaments to put on the dead.