El Día de los Muertos in Poetry and Word

by: Ellen C. Caldwell
for JSTOR Daily

El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a longstanding and time-honored holiday with deep historical and cultural roots. Celebrated in Mexico and in many places throughout the United States, El Día de los Muertos and its associated rituals date back thousands of years to ancient Mesoamerica, where it was celebrated by the Olmec, Toltex, Mexika, and Maya. Although they all honored their dead in different ways, some of their rituals are still celebrated and observed now. Many poets and writers have commemorated El Día de los Muertos by writing about childhood memories, family members past, and the foods and traditions associated with the festivities.

Poet Yusef Komunyakaa writes about El Día de los Muertos, describing the family altars and their elicitations in detail:

“Terra-cotta shrines for loved ones
Who died to hurt us. We rehearse
Their tunes & display their favorite
Colors in a labyrinth of unwinding rooms…”

Read the rest here at JSTOR Daily.

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