HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Many in Mexico and some in the Rio Grande Valley celebrated Dia De Los Muertos.
It’s a time to honor loved ones that are no longer here.
Mayela Gonzalez, a long-time Pharr resident shared why the tradition is important to her and her family.
“This is tradition,” Gonzalez said. “This is culture for us.”
While the celebration widely focuses on November 1 and November 2, Gonzalez says, preparations begin October 28, when she lit her first candle, which she explains is to light the path for spirits to cross over from the other side.
From lighting the candles, to pouring glasses of water, and placing items belonging to loved ones on an altar, each piece has a significant meaning.
“The first thing that is in my altar, the highest thing that is in my altar is my crucifix so you always put Him, or put your religion first. “Then you go down the line because each step means one thing,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez says her father taught her about Dia De Los Muertos at a young age.
She recalls the altar her father made in honor of her mother, and other loved ones growing up.
“It is very symbolic, Gonzalez said. “Every single thing has a meaning.”
Gonzalez added white flowers for those who died tragically.
She also added a glass of water, for those who died by drowning, or left the earth feeling thirsty.
She says, fruits are even left on the altar for children who died young, and, for the ancestors who can no longer chew.
For the past 10 years, Gonzalez has put up her own altar inside her home, honoring those who’ve passed.
“Dia de Los Muertos -it’s not about Halloween-it’s not about scary movies, it’s not about all that stuff,” Gonzalez said. “It’s there to honor the ones that are gone, the ones that are no longer with us physically, but their soul it’s here with us all the time.”
A photo of her niece, Lisette Gaza, sits in the middle of her altar.
She died tragically earlier this year, so white flowers were placed near her photo.
“She was killed, murdered by her husband on July 9 and she was stabbed to death outside her home,” Garza said.
Gonzalez says her niece was just 35-years-old at the time of her death.
“The way she died, she needs a lot of light in her path, the light and the white flowers for the way she was killed,” she said.
She’s also honoring her cousins, Pablo and Cecilia Juarez.
Pablo died of a heart attack and Cecilia died of COVID-19.
“They’re brother and sister, they both died within the same year, which is this year and they were very close to me,” she said. “We were raised together, we were like brother and sisters.”
For Gonzalez, Dia De Los Muertos can be an emotional, somber time, but it’s also a reminder of the happy memories she shares with the those she loves.
“It gives me peace, it gives me a way to accept death and accept that everyone is going to leave one day, but as long as I’m here I’m going to remember them,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez tells Local 23, she keeps this tradition alive so loved ones are not forgotten, and hopes her children and grandchildren will continue the tradition.
“I love my culture and I think they need to follow this because when I die I want somebody to remember me and do the same thing for me that I’m doing for my loved ones that are no longer with me,” she said.
The Pharr Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event in honor of Dia de Los Muertos on November 13.
The event will include market vendors, food and music as well as a showing of the movie, “Coco.”
The event runs from 5-9 p.m. at The Hub park in downtown Pharr.