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  • Writer's pictureMia Schillace Nelson

A Celebration, A Remembrance, and a Butterfly

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead, is a celebration of life and death. For a few days at the beginning of November, the dead are honored by living family members with feasts, gatherings at graveside, and remembrance of those lost. With its origins in Mexico, festivals, parades and revelers all over Latin America are festooned with colorful calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons) to celebrate those who are gone.

It so happens that Eastern monarch butterflies are completing their journey to their overwintering grounds in the state of Michoacán and the State of Mexico at precisely the same time as Día de Muertos each year.

For people in these regions, monarch butterflies hold a special place in their traditions. The returning monarchs represent the souls of their ancestors returning to visit them for Día de Muertos. The swaths of captivating monarchs flying overhead have continued to be an important connection between the living and the dead.

The butterflies make their way to Mexico from as far north as Canada, crossing a continent to continue their species' annual journey. They show us there are no true boundaries, and that we are all connected through nature today, tomorrow, and into our collective future.

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