Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is a day to celebrate and remember family members and loved ones who have died. It is a popular holiday that is celebrated in many parts of the world, especially in Mexico. It is typically celebrated on November 1 and 2 throughout Mexico, Central and South America, Spain, and the Philippines and in parts of the United States with high Latino populations.
Día de los Muertos is a day filled with dancing, wearing colorful costumes, eating favorite foods, and meeting at cemeteries to spend time at the gravesites of deceased ancestors. It is a perfect time to learn more about those people’s lives and help preserve the memories of who these people were.
Below are some ideas for fun activities to do during this time of Día de los Muertos to honor your ancestors. They are easy to do and can involve your entire family. Try one or more of these activities, and see how you can make Día de lost Muertos an extra memorable holiday for you and your family.
Share Stories with Living Family Members about Their Deceased Ancestors
One of the greatest ways of honoring your ancestors is to rekindle the memories of their lives. By getting to know an ancestor, you can truly learn to love him or her. The more you get to know the stories of your ancestors, the more you will see that you have in common with them.
During this holiday when family members come together, share stories that you remember of those who have died. Have someone write these stories, or make a voice recording. To make sure the memories are preserved for generations to come, add the memories to FamilySearch Family Tree, where they can be shared with everyone who might want to learn more about their ancestors. If you have a smartphone, the Family Tree and Memories apps are great ways to preserve both written and audio stories.
You can also learn more about your Mexican ancestors through historical records from Mexico.
Scan Photographs, and Add Them to the Family Tree
Many family photographs are hidden away in boxes or old photo albums, where younger family members rarely see them. Some may not even know that these photos of their loved ones exist. During this holiday time, get out some of those photographs, and start letting others see them.
Sharing your important family photographs with other family members is easy. As you meet together, bring some of your cherished family photos with you. Encourage others to bring their photos as well. Pass them around to everyone in the group, and see what questions the younger children start asking.
If you can, find someone who has a photo scanner, and scan your photographs. Some FamilySearch family history centers have scanners available for you to use at no cost. Again, if you have a smartphone, the Family Tree and Memories apps make it easy to preserve and share your photos.
Add these photographs to the FamilySearch Family Tree. Tag ancestors in the photos to add memories to the people’s pages in Family Tree. Once you do, those photos will be automatically shared with other relatives.
Take Pictures of Tombstones, and Submit Them to the BillionGraves Website
A perfect activity to take part in while you and your family are in the cemetery celebrating Día de los Muertos is photographing cemetery tombstones. These photos will be a great resource for birth and death information and can lead to opportunities to tell stories. To make your cemetery visit even more impactful, download the BillionGraves mobile app, and add the photos you take to a growing online database of tombstones. Every tombstone photograph you upload to the BillionGraves website will be indexed and made searchable for anyone to use to find their own ancestors. This activity makes it possible to visit cemeteries throughout the world without leaving home. If you live far from your ancestral homeland, check the site to see if you can find tombstones of your own family.
Write Memories of Your Parents and Give Them to Your Children
Take some time to write some of the stories you remember about your own life. Consider writing 10 memories about key moments in your life, and share them with your children in digital or printed form. Include photos where possible to add a special touch. Also, add these memories to your own page on FamilySearch so these memories live on.
Each of these activities is a great way to create a permanent online memorial that will help keep loved ones close now and in the future. What a great way to celebrate Día de los Muertos and show respect for your dear loved ones.