Mexicans Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos

Today marks the end of a 3-day celebration in Mexico. Every year on October the 31st Americans celebrate Halloween. In Mexico and some parts of Latina America, they celebrate Dia de Los Muertos — Or Day of the Dead. But even though this holiday is celebrated one day after Halloween, its meanings and customs are completely different. Bill Stamps has more.
Although American culture is seeping into Mexico and many of them celebrate Halloween, their custom this time of year is to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. It means day of the dead and the purpose is to honor relatives and loved ones who have died. Houston's Macario Ramirez explains.

Dia de los Muetros"Because we feel that on November first and second the heavens open and the spirits of our loved ones are allowed to come down to earth and visit us, we wait for them at home with a presentation like this."

The custom is for families to build, or put together, what's called ofrendas, which are alters. It can be as simple as a table or more elaborate. They place things the person liked, like his favorite food or drink. Things to remember him by. They also set out pictures of the loved one. Ramirez teaches a class on ofrendas. He says although they may use things like skulls for decorations — the holiday is not supposed to be scary like Halloween.

"It's a worldwide tradition. Most cultures have had a way of remembering and honoring their loved ones. It's we Americans that have dragged behind and have not done this in honor and I think this is good."

In some cities there are festivals and parades on Dia de los Muertos. Some people even go to cemeteries to visit the departed. There are no witches or vampires, no monsters or creepy creatures. It's called day of the dead, but it's actually a celebration of life.

Bill Stamps, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.