El Día de Los Muertos differs these past two years

By Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez
November 28, 2021


El Día de Los Muertos is the celebration of life and death. It is celebrated in many countries under different names and traditions and this year, it has been celebrated more than ever.

El Dia de Los Muertos is a festivity that originates from México. It has distinctive traits from Aztec and Spanish cultures and is a holiday traditionally celebrated on the first and second of November.  Nov. 1 is “El Dia de Los Inocentes,” — (day of the children) and All Saints Day.  Nov. 2 is El Día de Los Muertos. This festivity goes back as far as 3,000 years.

“I feel that El Día de Los Muertos is an obligation for many to be celebrating more than ever this year. That is because so many lives have been lost due to the disease that is COVID-19,” José Castro-Caro, sophomore international business major, said.

The holiday is celebrated to show remembrance and to welcome back loved ones who have passed away. It can be celebrated by placing the deceased’s most favorite foods and drinks on home ofrendas — (altars). Arrangements of lit candles, sweets and photos are also used to decorate home ofrendas. Ofrendas are meant to give directions to spirits. They help spirits find the land of the living on the second of November. Visiting the graves of the deceased with ofrendas and gifts is also very common.

COVID-19 has changed the way it has been celebrated.  It is no secret that since the discovery of COVID-19 in 2019, 5.03 million people have died from coronavirus disease according to The New York Times, Our World in Data and JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data.

“Celebrating El Día de Los Muertos has been very difficult for me and my family. We are all very health conscious. We used to celebrate it with many people. Celebrating it with few people has been strange,” Sandra Manrique, senior double major in political science and Spanish, said. “Yet, it’s the new norm; which I hate to say.”

“Death to COVID-19 has been horrible. Many have not even been able to be with their loved ones who only have seconds of life left. I can imagine that funerals and cemeteries have also been challenging to attend and go to,” Gabriela Chauca, junior business major, said.

Patients who are COVID-19 positive are left in isolation and only healthcare professionals can be with them, of course keeping their distances. Once a patient is transferred to a medium or intensive care unit, a patient will have lost all conexión with the outside world. Many eventually die in isolation without a proper farewell.

El baile de los viejitos — (dance of the elderly) is a tradicional dance that originates from the Mexican state of Michoacán. It is danced for all celebrations.   Photo by Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez

“El Día de Los Muertos has been different this year. People can not say proper goodbyes to loved ones before they pass and only so many people can be at a funeral session,” Yeredith Cruz, sophomore health science major, said. “I can imagine that going to a funeral out of state must also be challenging. These are tough times we have all been living in.”



Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez

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