SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Next month, Hispanic people around the globe will partake in one of the most spiritual holidays.
Dia de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, is a holiday typically celebrated throughout Latin America from October 31 to November 2.
“There is a sacredness to it, extremely sacred because it’s almost like you could actually feel them and be with them,” said Perla Alarcon-Flory.
Perla Alarcon-Flory moved from Mexico to Sioux City when she was 23. She remembers celebrating the Day of the Dead during her youth.
“The Day of the Dead has always been a celebration in my family, and I remember in my early years at my grandma‘s house and she would set up her altars. She would put special dishes that our loved ones that had passed on liked, so she would have things like Mole,” Alarcon-Flroy said.
Day of the Dead isn’t complete without marigolds, sugar skulls, and papel picado as decorations, but those celebrations continue outside of home.
“The true celebration is in the cemeteries when you go and you bring flowers, and you have families that have picnics in the cemeteries, and they bring mariachi bands and they have music and they just sit down to enjoy the company of living and dead alike,” Alarcon-Flory said.
Now living in Sioux City, Perla said this year’s Day of the Dead will be extra meaningful for her family.
“My mother continues the tradition, she sets up her altars down in Mexico, I really haven’t done it here. However, now my 16-year-old, Nisa, and my 13-year-old both are like, ‘Why don’t we set up an altar? We should set up an altar.’ So this year, will be the first year that we will actually have an altar here at home,” Alarcon-Flory said.
These Dia de los Muertos celebrations are commonplace in Mexico. However, other Hispanic countries have their own unique ways to celebrate Day of the Dead.
Gabriela Villacres moved to Siouxland in 2015 from Ecuador, a country with a unique Day of the Dead tradition.
“It’s from November first and second, we take two days as a national holiday. And throughout the whole month, you’re going to find, it’s like a purple drink. It’s made of a dark corn, and it’s also like thick, but it’s very fruity,” Villacres said.
Something Villacres admittedly has a hard time finding in Siouxland.
“It is a little bit difficult because all the recipes, my grandma is usually the one in my house in Ecuador who makes the drink which is really delicious. It’s called Colada Morada,” Villacres said.
Despite being thousands of miles away from home, Villacres still finds a way to honor important people in her life.
“Especially my dad. It’s hard because I cannot go to his grave, but I like to, same thing, talk to him, tell him how things are going in my life or if he could even help me out,” Villacres said.
Despite the unique traditions, Dia de los Muertos carries the same importance for Hispanics of different ethnicities.
“We celebrate them. We honor them. We give them that importance. Even though after they passed away, we’re still, we’re giving them that special treatment because they are very very important,” Villacres said.
“This is not a time of mourning, at all. There is this belief that there is life after this life. And then there is this belief that your loved ones are still there loving and caring for you,” Alarcon-Flory said.