By Henry Flores, director of the communications center in El Salvador
Latin America is a land full of beauty, hard-working people and a great diversity of customs and traditions.
One of those traditions is the celebration of El DÌa de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
This has nothing to do with cults to the dead, but a day to remember family and friends and the moments we spent together while they were alive.
Cemeteries are usually lonely and cold places; however, this day they become alive and cheerful.
Families get together to visit them, bringing colorful ornaments and flowers to place on the graves of their relatives and loved ones.
Besides the beauty of people praying, singing and placing flowers, this celebration generates good business not only for those who make ornaments or sell flowers, but also for men and women who clean graves with water and detergent, paint them with nice colors and retouch the names of the deceased carved in wood or cement crosses.
My family and I usually visit the grave of my brother Julio, who is buried with my grandma Tona and grandpa Francisco. We like to arrive there early, around 6:30 a.m., to avoid the stress of many people and heavy traffic.
In my family we all have a traditional responsibility during our visit.
- My brother Julio Ernesto is in charge of praying the rosary.
- My wife, Roxana, helps clean the grave.
- Children play, jumping all over the graves.
- My mother, Maria Teresa, brings the flowers, and
- I bring tools and wire to place the flowers in the cross.
Besides the beauty of being together as a family, this tradition gives us the chance to share stories and pass along the story of our family to our children.
After laughs, tears and moments of silence, we all left the cemetery with the sun coming up and the cheerful noise of people coming to visit their dead.
Even though my brother, grandma and grandpa are no longer with us, their spirit, love and blessings remain among us.
We had a nice family moment and the best of all, as every year, my mother bought us breakfast…