How Do You Honor Death?

Every year since 2011, la familia (the family) Rodriguez gets free nuggets from Chick-fil-A. The staff knows that this family celebrates El Día de los Muertos to honor the life of their daughter, Fernanda “Fergy” Rodriguez, who offered hope when she was only 15 months old by becoming a tissue donor in September 2011. 

On El Día de Los Muertos, Fergy’s family brings Fergy’s favorite things – Chick-fil-A, Cheetos, apple juice and Hello Kitty – to her graveside. This is how her family celebrates the dead: by bringing back to life the things she enjoyed. 

“Fergy is not here physically, but her spirit remains alive, especially by celebrating this tradition, which makes it tangible,” said Fergy’s mother and Ambassador of Hope, Nancy. “We will continue doing this celebration, especially now that we have Davidcito, Fergy’s little brother. We want him to know that he has a little sister in heaven.” 

The observance, which was held Nov. 1-2, coincides with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Typically, the two-day celebration is divided into separate days: Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) on Nov. 1 to honor deceased youth, and Día de los Muertos on Nov. 2 to honor deceased adults.

According to Wikipedia, in Brazil, Día de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, festivals and parades are frequently held and people often gather at cemeteries and pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures. 

Día de los Muertos, now an official Donate Life celebration, educates audiences and encourages dialogue about the rich Mexican-American heritage in our region, as well as promotes cultural awareness of this celebration, way of life and community. 

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