Day of the Dead Celebration

by Francisco G. Gómez

The Day of the Dead goes by many names, Día de los muertos, Day of the Ancestors, Day of the Egún, All souls Day and many other names, I imagine. For us who are from the Caribbean, or closely situated in that region by location, cultural traditions or simply by interest, we celebrate it as a day of ancestral remembrance.

On November 2nd we gathered at my home to share our cultural traditions, from Guyana, Puerto Rico and Cuba. We sang songs dedicated to the ancestors, prayed for them, told stories about them and then had a feast.

It was a small group of people from our herbal and ancestor circles. For us there are no special days to honor the ancestors because they are remembered everyday as our diverse traditions have taught us. El día de los muertos, in particular, is a time to come together and share our African, Indigenous and Judeo/Christian beliefs. It’s a potpourri of spiritual rituals, ceremonies and esoteric beliefs. Scriptures from the book of Ifá, collection of selected Kardecian prayers, the Torah, Bible or Popol Vu may be read or even discussed on this day. This year we began our celebration with music and song. We pulled out the Cuban tres and hand bass, passed out some sheets of lyrics from los nanis and sang them in Spanish. Then each of us took turns at the communal altar to pay homage to our dearly departed, each in our own special way. We then broke bread with a spread that consisted of marinated green bananas, Guyana gumbo, Codfish salad, Codfish rice/red beans, flan, wine and latkes. We also shared our food with the ancestors, in addition to placing things that they enjoyed while they were alive, such as cigarettes, cigars, their pictures, candles, rum, black coffee, and flowers on the communal altar; it was lots of fun and very entertaining!

Raíces gives many thanks to Mama Chinon, Bethsaida, Akosua, Angela and Nicole for their participation in this year’s celebration. We hope next year’s gathering will have more participants as we continue to learn from each other in peace, love and harmony for the ancestors! Aché


Day of the Dead Celebration — 5 Comments

  1. It was a beautiful celebration and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. Special thanks to Francisco and Angela who opened up their home for us to spend this time in celebration of our ancestors together and to everyone who shared with us on this day. Looking forward to continuing this tradition for many years to come. Maferefun egun!

  2. Next year kindly post some photos of the food. There was some I was unfamiliar with and it would add to the story and allow us to possibly add something different to our own celebrations. It sounds so lovely!

    • Hi Daria, the pictures of the food we place on our altars is only important in the sense that it’s specific to our ancestors who enjoyed those particular dishes when they were alive. Similarly, objects that are placed next to pictures of those ancestors are likewise. In other words, the things that were special to those ancestors are what are added to the altar. If you are just interested in those particular dishes, you can find the recipes online! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Lovely piece! My husband’s family’s tradition has us “grave tending” in May, with an afternoon of picnicking at the grave site, tidying the plot bringing food gifts, and connecting with others doing the same. We we be pleased to join your autumnal celebration in 2020!

    • Thank you, Heather! We do the same practice of grave tending when we’re back home in the Caribbean. For us the ancestor’s are always remembered and attended to first in all our ceremonies. And yes, we would love for you to attend our next ancestral celebration. We have a wonderful time making presentations, sharing stories, playing music, singing songs and putting on the feedbag from a variety of different cultures that attend our event!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.