Today is my favorite holiday, Dia de los Muertos. It is a Mexican holiday that we have always celebrated back home in South Texas, though it has recently become more popular throughout the United States. Supposedly it’s a mixture of an Aztec celebration of the dead and the Catholic celebration of All Souls Day. On this day we remember and celebrate our ancestors and friends who have died. In elementary school we would eat little skulls made of sugar and a special bread called “Pan de Muertos” while we colored pictures of skeletons and skulls. It’s not really meant to be a dark, scary day like Halloween, it is simply a celebration of death and life and how they are intimately connected. Some families visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried and leave “ofrendas” or offerings, such as the deceased favorite foods or toys. They tell stories about their loved ones and it is believed that they are present on this day. It is also customary to make a little altar in your house with pictures of your loved ones and trinkets that represent them. Since we are in the process of packing up our house for our move right now, I couldn’t do that this year, but I thought I’d make a blog version to honor my ancestors who have died.
I’ll start with the only two I remember, Papo and his mother.
I have information about some of the others that I’ll share too.
Papo died when I was four so I don’t have too many memories of him, but I do have a few. I remember he always wore scrubs and gave me popsicles when I went to his house. If I remember correctly, his favorite flavor was orange. Papo was a County Judge who was much loved by the people in our community. People always tell me about him and how they miss him. I wish I could have known him longer.
I remember my great-grandmother a little better because she didn’t pass until I was 11. She lived in a house behind our ranch house and I used to visit her a lot. She always had a telenovela (Mexican soap opera) on and spoke to me only in Spanish. There were two things I loved going to her house for: Vanilla Ice Cream and Scrambled Eggs. She always had them and I loved them.
The next picture is of Eufemia Champion, the daughter of Joseph Campioni who came to Texas from Italy and was part of one of the founding families of Port Isabel. There is a blurb about the Champions after the picture, taken from the Champion Museum in Port Isabel.
The next picture is of the patriarch of the Orives, known as “Papa Praxedis.” He was born in Cadereyta, N.L., Mex., in 1812. His father was a Basque who came to Mexico in 1780 from Bilbao, Spain. Praxedis was a Free-Mason.
Benigna Trevino received the Palmito Ranch, site of the last battle of the Civil War. She was the daughter of Ignacio Trevino, a civil engineer of the early 1800’s
Frederick joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in 1914 and he retired in 1945 He achieved major success in his life, rising from Bandboy to RQMS (highest Non commissioned rank) and then being commissioned in 1940. He retired in 1945 as a Captain, after 31 years and two wars.
It’s crazy to think I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for every single one of these people. Neither would the little baby growing in my belly. This is why I’m so interested in learning about my family tree. There is a little piece of each one of these people in me & my baby. In a way they live forever.