I hold close to my heart and in my soul those good old days of November when I, as a child, and would help my abuelita ,grandmother, commemorate our loved ones who had passed away. Beginning in October I would ask:
– “Abuelita, when will we go to the market to buy the papel picado“(paper with cut-out figures)?
– “Abuelita, how many days until we go to the cemetery?”
– “When are you going to get the table ready for the altar offering?”
And she would patiently respond, “Very soon, sweetheart, but remember that first we have to clean the house really well for their visit. They’re our most important visitors and we have to welcome them in to a very clean and organized home!”
I thoroughly enjoyed those afternoons when, after school, we would go to the market to buy everything we needed for the holiday. By that time the market would be packed with things for the Day of the Dead. I remember that before, just like now, flowers were sold everywhere, especially the cempasuchitl, that orange flower that is only sold during this time of year.
There were stands where practically everything for the Day of the Dead was sold everything – candles, black ceramic candlesticks, and the fruit of the season: squash, sugar cane, and bananas. The bakeries prepare “ Pan de Muerto” , day of the dead bread and other special types of bread as offerings; for example, the golletes, a pink doughnut-type of bread, which symbolizes the cycle of life and death.
“Get ready, sweetheart,” my grandma would tell me, “Today we have to get up early to get everything ready.”
October 31 had finally arrived, the eve of the big celebration. First I would help her put aside the living room furniture to get the table ready. Then we would cover the table with a white cloth, my grandma’s favorite.