I learned about the Day of the Dead in high school Spanish class. Senora Hache would take orders for dead-bread, and most of my peers just saw it as a snack. I remember other students complaining of how bland the bread tasted. I don’t recall the full explanation of significance that my Spanish teacher tried to express to us. Though this is not a tale of family tradition and generational custom, like in Coco, it is the authentic origin story of my interest. However, my introduction and eventual love for Dia de los Muertes is more common than many might think.
Some propose that the origin of this holiday follows some sort of unbroken path from the Aztecs to the Spaniards to the modern practicioners at your local Hispanic cultural center; this is however an illusion. For the most part, the Day of the Dead tradition was practically unheard of in the United States until the early 1970’s when some pivotal promoters of the holiday saw this documentary.
My point is that it does not matter what brought you to the holiday, and to a certain extent there is plenty of room for personalization of practice ; enjoying this holiday’s many treasures revolves around a seemingly simple principle: death as a compadre.