Lingering Aromas of Día de Los Muertos


Gabriel Coronado, Reporter

Fall. The time of memories is upon us, and what better way to look back at them than to see what we enjoyed when we were younger. For me with a Mexican background, the most prevalent thing would have to be Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

It’s a time for the people who have died to be remembered once more as they have a picture of them placed upon an altar. The altar can be as elaborate or as simple as long as the message gets across. Most of the time, the altar has an arch that’s adorned with cempasuchitl, or Mexican marigold flowers. Their orange color can be light or a have a deeper richness to it. It also has a distinct fragrance that once you smell it, you’ll know what it is, even without looking at it. It doesn’t matter how many times you experience this time of year isn’t something that loses it impact.

Despite seeing everything unfold before me year after year, this tradition has such a distinct flavor to it that one time just isn’t enough. I can always recall getting ready for the 31st of October by getting all of the ingredients for tamales and the flowers for the arch. My mother would start preparing the tamales while my dad and I would start working on the arch for the altar. Every time that I would pass a flower to my dad, it would give off it’s fragrance that I’m still capable of recognizing even if it’s been a couple of years since the last time that I’ve seen any marigold flowers. Even though the flowers are so distinct, the thing that really seals the deal is the aroma that the tamales give off when they’re being cooked. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re in the room, if you catch a whiff of it, you know you’re in for a treat. 

Even through all of this, the one thing that I simply can’t ever forget is the ofrenda, or offering. My family, and every family that follows the tradition, leaves out food and drinks for the souls of the dead so that they can eat and drink once more. This is something that made me realize just how much we respect those that have fallen as this isn’t about ourselves, but rather how we celebrate those that aren’t with us anymore. 

This tradition will stay with me and has stayed within me because it made me realize one major thing many years ago. Even after death, as long as I remain within the memories of others, I will be remembered whenever this time of year comes again.