El Dia de los Muertos celebrates life

MADISON, Wis (WMTV) -- It's a tradition that originates from Mexico, but the day of the dead is being celebrated right here in Dane County.

El Dia de los Muertos is a two-day period from November 1-2.

Death is a somber subject, but el Dia de los Muertos makes it a celebration.

Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores set up an ofrenda, which is an altar to honor and remember family and friends who died.

“Es importante recordar los pasados los antepasados por saber quien somos,” Kilfoy-Flores said.
Translation:"It's important to remember our ancestors to know who we are."

Each item holds meaning. Calaveras, skulls, are used as a traditional symbol for remembering lives that were lost, but not in a dark sense.

"So skulls are not seen as something that's scary it's actually something that's fun," Kilfoy-Flores said.

The papel picado is an explosion of color and joy to look at death through a different lens.

"It's a different way of mourning rather than having deep sadness and sorrow instead you have happiness for your love ones because they transitioned," she said.

The ofrenda is adorned with mementos like pictures of family and friends and some of the things they cherished when they were alive

"It's a way to continue to celebrate them by celebrating the food they like or the drinks," Kilfoy-Flores said.

Food of the dead is typically a sweet bread, which is pan de muerto. Sugar skulls are also decorated with bright colors and a smile as a part of the celebration.

Kilfoy-Flores said the holiday highlights death is a natural part of life and relatives who have died are never truly gone.

"Life is short so we better celebrate while we can," she said.

Latinx Student Union will hold a Dia de los Muertos celebration on November 9 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at East High School.