Most all families have traditions. Perhaps it is decorating the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving or maybe it is spending July 4th at the beach or going shopping early on Saturday mornings. Whatever your tradition may be, if you live in a state that borders Mexico some of their traditions may well have spilled over into our country.
For instance, the lasso that is still used in many Mexican weddings. The lasso - generally a white rope or garland of flowers - is placed over the bride and groom symbolizing their unity and eternal love for each other. Or the quinceanera, a big celebration that so many young girls look forward to with great anticipation. This tradition generally begins in the church where the parents ask God's blessing and guidance for their 15-year-old daughter as they recognize they have done their best to raise her to this so-called age of reason when she must make many decisions on her own. Maybe if you live in a border city you have had the honor of being invited to take part in a posada. The word posada translates to English as Inn. A posada then is a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph seeking a place where the Christ Child could be born.
One tradition celebrated widely in Mexico is the celebration of the Day of the Dead. The observance is celebrated more or less at the same time that we celebrate Halloween. However, this celebration is not just a one-day event but extends for approximately a full week with each day being a special day of remembrance for a deceased loved one. There is a day set aside for remembering and honoring the deceased children, another for adults and so on. One of the major days is the second of November dedicated to remembering the deceased adults. It is believed that on their special day the souls of the departed will come closer to earth. All night vigils are held in cemeteries that come alive with profusely decorated altars covered with chrysanthemums. The color of the flower and the distinctive smell help to guide the soul for the visit. Three-foot-tall candles with a circumference of some three inches also light the way to each grave site where the family of the departed remember and pay respect to their loved one. Favorite food and drink are prepared and placed on the grave. The essence of which the soul will enjoy.
It took a long time for our culture to accept the Day of the Dead observance. Today many churches and museums in the Texas Rio Grande Valley construct Day of the Dead altars and invite community members to bring candles and photos of the deceased to decorate the altar.
Actually, the Day of the Dead celebration is a moving, reverent experience. It is one of most beautiful tours that I have ever offered. However, when the tour was first introduced, it was extremely difficult to sell. I wonder - has our society decided to accept other people’s traditions?