In Mexico tradition, the dead help the living maintain family bonds

The day before Halloween my mother asked if I wanted to visit her hometown of Torreon, Coahuila, to celebrate the Day of the Dead. “After 28 years I want to go see my grandmother,” my mother, Blanca, told me. My parents are Jewish and pray for the dead during Yizkor services which correspond with the seasons four times a year. My grandmother always comes to mind in the fall. So we packed our bags and caught a bus in Juarez for a 10-hour bus ride through Mexico.

Msgr. Arturo Bañuelas led the prayer commemorating the dead. (Edwin Delgado/

Day of the Dead procession remembers recent casualties along the U.S.-Mexico border

EL PASO – The Border Network for Human Rights held its eighth annual Day of the Dead Procession along the Cesar E. Chavez border highway on Nov. 1 to remember those who have perished while trying to enter the United States and show their support for comprehensive Immigration Reform. “As the Day of the Dead looms, we take this day to remember the immigrants who unfortunately lost their lives while crossing the border,” said BNHR director Fernando Garcia. “We should never forget them; we will be here honoring them every year because if we forget about them their deaths will be in vain and more people will lose their life.”

The non-profit BNHR, along with nearly 150 El Pasoans of all ages, marched from Bowie High School through Central El Paso and along the border highway that separates El Paso from Ciudad Juarez. Participants carried coffins made out of cardboard, religious crosses, lit candles and banners to express their support for immigration reform. Although the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that grants a path to citizenship to undocumented residents last summer, the bill is currently stalled in the House of Representatives and unlikely to be discussed this year.

Marigolds - Mexican gold. (Peg Bowden)

Día de los muertos

NOGALES, México – I love contrasts and extremes: the blazing heat of the desert, and the 40 degree drop in temperature at night this time of year. Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is that kind of festival— a study of contrasts and extremes, a party of joy and sorrow, yin and yang. The Nogales cemetery, a place of sadness and grief, is today a place of singing, feasting, and marigolds everywhere. The streets are lined with booths selling bouquets of marigolds, sugar skulls, and pan dulce (sweet bread and pastries). There is the smell of roasted pork on skewers slowly dripping into the fires, and strolling guitarists and accordions are everywhere.

(David Smith-Soto/

Día de los muertos, Mesilla, NM – Slideshow

MESILLA, NM – Mesilla Plaza near Las Cruces, New Mexico, observed Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Sunday, October 30, with some 50 altars, each one lovingly assembled with mementos  by relatives of the dead to honor and remember their loved ones.  

Lorena Andrade's altar in memory of her father and nephew. (Elvia Navarrete/

Día de Los Muertos honors the dead and sustains an ancient Mexican tradition

EL PASO – Carefully placing her deceased father’s framed portrait on a round table covered with a Spanish style tablecloth, Lorena Andrade neatly arranged his favorite things such as the sugar cane, bananas, tunas and lemons, a pack of L&M cigarettes and a Coca Cola glass bottle. “With the candles and the scent of the flowers they can find you,” she said. “You put food that they like to eat that way they would want to come back and, you know, sit down and talk and eat together. It’s a way for them to come back to visit.”

Like Lorena many people gather at Mercado Mayapán to celebrate Day of the Dead, known to Latinos as Día de Los Muertos. It’s a day and a month when mourners remember their lost loved ones and place ofrendas (offerings) on altars in remembrance and to welcome the departed.