A Glimpse of Día de los Muertos: How does PPCHS Coach De Bastos Celebrate this Holiday?
November 17, 2021
The Day of the Dead holds different meanings to those who celebrate it. Well known for its signature calaveras, blooming marigolds, and candles that shine light on gently placed photographs, this holiday has been celebrated for many centuries. It’s a quiet time, to be reminded of another year without certain loved ones, but also cause for celebration. A day to remember their presence, and tighten the bond between the living and the dead.
Among the millions who honor this holiday, PPCHS Head Cross Country and Distance Track Coach Angeles de Bastos looks upon the holiday with fondness, as someone who has celebrated it since she was young. Raised in a Mexican household, “Día de los Muertos means a lot to me and my family. It comes with a lot of memories from my childhood. It’s a Mexican tradition that has now a stronger meaning to me since my grandfather passed away.”A holiday that also indulges in wistfulness amidst all the jovial preparations.
Honoring the deceased with well-made altars called ofrendas is an iconic way of remembering those who have passed. Ofrendas weave their ways into the earlier memories of many children, as students in Mexico typically had altars in school dedicated to the famous, but Coach de Bastos emphasizes the meaning behind adorning an altar at home. “Building an altar at home is fun, because not only do you work on making it colorful, but also because you place the food that the deceased used to love when they were alive.” Recalling the rich aromas wafting around her kitchen at that time of year, she adds on, “It’s a beautiful thing to be surrounded by family while cooking the person’s favorite food and remembering them.”
Much like Christmas and other family holidays, El Dia de los Muertos has the ability to instill positive sensual memories– involving good times with friends and family, delicious food, and annual festivities such as parades. The famous International Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City was attended by a record 3 million people. Every family has their own favorite customs to look forward to every year. Coach Angeles de Bastos claims, “When I was younger my father instilled a love for writing the Calaveras in me and all my siblings. It’s when you write in a comedic way about a person that is not dead, and tell how he/she died when the calavera (skull) took you to the cemetery. You take into account the person’s hobbies, favorite food, personality and write about it in verse form; rhyming is a must.”
Remembering how fun it was to hear about what other people wrote about her, she looked forward to passing on the tradition to her own family. “Writing the Calaveras is something that I tried to carry on with my children. Also, el pan de Muerto (bread of the dead) is something that must be on our table that day. It’s a sweet bread topped with little bones to decorate the bread, which are also made of bread and sugar.
The Day of the Dead with its countless endearing traditions and nostalgic memories, has Coach Angeles looking at the future. “I hope my children carry this tradition. It’s not really a sad day. It’s like a celebration of life. We celebrate the person who passed away and it’s a way to honor our ancestors.”