Día de los Muertos provides a timely, universal message

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Berk Oto

The Day of the Dead should remind people that death is not just a statistic, but the loss of a real life, and we should use this day to reflect on that.

Julian Ingersoll, Co-Arts Editor

The moment October begins, it seems that the spooky season grips everyone and everything. Families dig out fake cobwebs, companies begin Halloween-themed ad campaigns and candy prices begin to skyrocket. While Halloween is often considered to be the pinnacle of spooky season, my family has focused our attention elsewhere. Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1, and it allows families to celebrate the lives of loved ones that have died in the past year.

In the past year, as hundreds of thousands of people die of COVID-19, we can begin to think of death as just a statistic in the news. The Day of the Dead should remind people that death is not just a statistic, but the loss of a real life, and we should use this day to reflect on that. It should be a more widespread holiday, even outside of Mexico, since its message is universal.

This holiday is simply a reminder that while our loved ones may have died, they are still around us if we remember them.”

Some might say that they can not celebrate the holiday because they are not of Mexican descent, but you do not have to Mexican to remember your ancestors. This holiday is simply a reminder that while our loved ones may have died, they are still around us if we remember them. This, of course, is not inherently Mexican, and anyone can celebrate this holiday in whatever way they feel comfortable. Whether people would like to celebrate the holiday in the traditional Mexican way, with sugar skulls and marigold petals, or if they want to simply take time with their family to reflect, they should celebrate however they see fit. Furthermore, given the pandemic and the hundreds of thousands of deaths around the country therefrom, the Day of the Dead would give those who have suffered from the pandemic time to remember their loved ones as a form of healing and acceptance. 

The contrasts between Halloween and the Day of the Dead are prevalent, but this doesn’t mean you have to celebrate one or the other. Trick-or-treating as a child was a big occasion for me, but I knew I was also coming home to an altar full of passed loved ones. This way I knew that I would get my candy, but I knew that there was a more important message for me to return home to. Though not everyone will celebrate the holiday to the full extent that my family does, the day can still carry its meaning to not just Mexicans, but to a wide variety of people. 

According to the COVID Tracking Project, run by The Atlantic, 960 people died from the coronavirus on Oct. 31. The grief that people feel after the death of a loved one is profound, and The Day of the Dead is a great way to help deal with these feelings. Regardless of social background, take out some old photos and tell some stories about the people you miss on the Day of the Dead.