Letter from Estela Romero

9 de Noviembre de 2017


Celebrating Dia de Los Muertos

Dear friends: 

My words try its best to convey the emotions of our great Day of the Dead. The whole celebration has been like several orchestras playing at the same time, all different, but all harmonious.

All day, Monarchs overflew our bright-blue sky.  People took them for granted as the arriving souls of our dear Dead ones. Even so, they could hardly help crying out in surprise.

The opening of our great Day of the Day Festivities in town started at noon time. It began with elementary school girls performing a welcoming dance to Monarchs at the main downtown square.  Monarchs are one of our great symbols of identity and tradition, our region being the prized overwintering site to them.

Houses looked full of mysticism, inside and outside, with colorful ofrendas, meals, flavors, accessories and memories to loved ones in every family.  Grandparents teach their children and grandchildren about the art and magic of placing an ofrenda and decorating home for the Great Day. 

At the cemetery, every member of a family was actively playing or listening to traditional Mexican music, strictly songs that bring back memories of the time lived with their Dead Ones now. People sang and prayed while decorating the grave to their beloved ones with great pride, respect, and love.  The cemetery was dressed up as the sun prepared for set down.

Again this year, I, in humble representation to the community of people interested in Monarchs’ life-cycle in our three countries, Canada, United States and México, allowed myself to set the traditional Ofrenda at the grave of the Monarch Butterflies. This grave commemorates the butterflies that were frozen during the terrible winter storm in 2002. I placed on it the only two meals nourishing to Monarch Butterflies while overwinter in our Oyamel forests. That is, water from our natural springs and nectar of wild flowers from our blooming fields.

Some live music was this time adding a real feeling of touch to the sense of what Monarchs mean to us people in the region. Guadalupe, 11 years old, about to end elementary school and living at one of the surrounding communities to the Sanctuaries, learning to play the guitar empirically, just as his father and grandfather did, came first thing directly to the Grave of Monarchs with his dad and his uncle and started their day as a musical group at the cemetery, playing a few of our most traditional Mexican popular songs which letters, referring every time to the marvel of nature, made a deep reflection on loss, love, pride, death and  life.

At night in town, streets crowded with enthusiasm. All rendered fest to our Great Day, and the sense of Death as part of being alive and — because of this latter — a reason to make a big celebration!

Every once in a while, one can see that a mixture of Halloween style with Day of the Dead Mexican folklore can be seen in some apparel in boys and girls and decoration at homes; together they seem to match cultures in the most artistic way as sign of plurality in the world and sistership among cultures. 

The Day of the Death Celebrations in Mexico, has been declared for some years now, Mankind Cultural Property by the UNESCO.

As the grandieuse sign of love to our Dead ones today in Angangueo died out by mid-night,  the start of the Monarch Season creeps magically in making this way the miracle of life and survival possible.

In el Cerrito, Monarchs seem to capriciously spread out, certainly anxious to reach their overwintering sites in the peak of our mountains at about three thousand meters elevation.

Little by little, the wonderful, green nature around us dresses up with the bright orange and golden brown of Monarch butterflies to the wonder of the eyes of mankind for the next four months.

Estela Romero
Angangueo, Michoacán