Esther and Jeorge Ramirez of Milbank flung their windows open wide this week to welcome the spirits of their family who have gone before them. The windows represent the gates of heaven that, according to Mexican tradition, are open from noon on October 31 until noon on November 2. The first 24 hours are devoted to the spirits of the children, the second is for the spirits of the adults, and the third is open for all the spirits. The celebration is known as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, and it evokes images of bright marigolds, sugar candy skulls, faces painted like skeletons, and altars laden with everything from toys and tamales to candles and cigarettes. Although Americans only began observing the festival in 1972, it stems from ancient traditions dedicated to honoring the deceased.
The Valley Express visited with the Ramirez family and their guests. Day of the Dead sounds as though it would be a somber occasion, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not solemn or sad, it’s all about hospitality. It is a time of celebration.
Jeorge said how much the holiday means to them and how they would welcome anyone in Milbank to stop over to experience it for themselves next year. The couple also emphasized the carefully selected food and flowers they place on the altar do not go to waste. The food is eaten by their family or shared with others and the flowers are taken to the Milbank cemetery to adorn gravesites.
For more about the Ramirez’s Dia de los Muertes celebration click here.