My Dia de los Muertos Traditions by Elizabeth Amaya

Elizabeth Amaya- Latinx Outreach Coordinator for CCM
and Tepeyac President

Dia de los Muertos is a special time to honor and remember my abuelito who passed away 6 years ago. My abuelita always makes a very large altar in a celebration that includes food, pictures, crosses, rosaries, and little items from the people honored on the altar.

In my own home, we never had a formal altar for Dia de los Muertos until I decided to make a little one, two years ago. When I came to DePaul and saw Tepeyac’s dedication to celebrating Dia de los Muertos and creating altars on campus, I was inspired to make my own mini version at home. To honor my passed abuelito, my extended family gets together at my abuelita’s house and we will pray by the ofrenda in remembrance of him.

There is a traditional Mexican sweet bread that is a key element of this tradition and is often seen on ofrendas as an offering. It is called Pan de Muerto or Bread of the Dead and not only is it delicious but it has a special representation. The bread has a small ball at the center of the top of the bread and there are longer pieces that lay across the top. The ball in the middle represents the skull and the other pieces signify bones. Some may say that they represent tears that are shed for the dead and some also say it represents the heart. Last year, my mom and I tried baking this together and it was an incredibly long process and did not reach the standards of Mexican bakeries, but it was still delicious and incredibly fun to make.

My favorite Dia de los Muertos tradition is the act of creating the ofrendas or altars. It is a beautiful way to demonstrate our love for the ones in our lives who have passed. I love looking at the beautiful and bright colors incorporated in the altars and the details that are personal to the people’s loved ones. Tepeyac invites all to visit our ofrenda in the Lincoln Park Student Center to leave either a picture or the name of a passed loved one to honor them.