Ask a Mexican

 Ask a Mexican

Day of the Dead is almost here, and we asked a few Mexies: “What is the significance of Dia de los Muertos, and how can gringos respectfully participate in the celebrations?”

Miguel Gutierrez, 45, musician. 

Día de los Muertos is a time of music, dance, and celebration, where we welcome our deceased loved ones back into our lives. Gringos who want to join in can appreciate our vibrant music and dance, like the joyful marimba tunes and the colorful performances of the folkloric ballet. Don’t be shy about participating in the celebrations themselves. Join the processions, dance with us, and share in the joy of our culture. We love to share our traditions with those who are genuinely interested, and your participation is a testament to the power of cultural exchange and understanding. 

Rosa Perez, 70, retired teacher. 

Having celebrated Día de los Muertos all my life, I can attest to its significance in our culture. Gringos who wish to participate should start by attending public processions and ceremonies, which are often open to everyone. However, it’s crucial to remember that this is not a tourist attraction. Approach the celebration with an open heart, be respectful of the customs, and if you can, learn a bit of Spanish. It shows that you genuinely care about our culture. By taking a sincere interest and being respectful, you’ll find that the Mexican people are more than happy to welcome you into our traditions. 

Javier Morales, 55, cook. 

For me, Día de los Muertos is a sensory feast. The flavors, aromas, and colors are unlike anything else. Gringos who want to participate respectfully can start by exploring the culinary aspect of our celebration. Try traditional foods like pan de muerto, a sweet bread, or mole, a rich and complex sauce. Don’t forget to indulge in the sweet delight of sugar skulls. Visit local markets and support artisans by purchasing handmade crafts (no bargaining!) and decorations. This not only immerses you in our culture but also contributes to the local economy, which is deeply appreciated.

Lupita Chavez, 22, college student. 

As a young Mexican, Día de los Muertos is about preserving and passing down our traditions to future generations. Gringos can respectfully participate by actively engaging with the community. Attend workshops, volunteer in local events, and embrace the opportunity to share experiences. You don’t need to be Mexican to create your own ofrenda, a personal altar to honor your loved ones who have passed away. It’s a beautiful way to connect with the spirit of Día de los Muertos and share your own cultural background. 

Carlos Hernández, 28, teacher. 

Día de los Muertos is a deeply personal and spiritual time for me. It’s a moment to connect with our roots and to keep our cultural heritage alive. Gringos who wish to participate respectfully can start by attending community events and gatherings. Listen to our stories and the significance behind our customs. Remember that Día de los Muertos is not Halloween; it’s not about costumes or scary decorations. It’s about honoring our ancestors and celebrating their lives. Approach it with reverence and an open heart and mind, and don’t hesitate to ask questions to gain a deeper understanding.

María Rodríguez, 40, artisan. 

Día de los Muertos holds a profound significance for our culture. It’s a time when we come together as a community to honor our ancestors and loved ones who have passed away. This celebration is not about grief but rather about joyfully remembering the lives they led. Gringos who want to respectfully join in should first educate themselves about the history and customs of Día de los Muertos. Visit local ofrenda, those beautifully decorated altars that are at the heart of our celebrations and learn about the significance of each item placed on them. Show respect by not treating it as a tourist attraction or a Halloween substitute. Engage with the local community, listen to our stories, and ask questions with genuine curiosity. You don’t need to be Mexican to appreciate the beauty of our culture and the depth of our traditions.