Saturday, November 9, 2013

Día de los Muertos- Recognizing One's Ancestors

From November 1-2, a popular holiday from Mexico also known in the USA due to its closeness in date to Halloween was celebrated- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). And even though it's been a week since the holiday, I've been thinking a lot about how we remember our ancestors and the importance of remembering them.

Serendipitously, as a few members of 23andme chatted about our African results from AncestryDNA, someone posted a few links which I found interesting. They all dealt with remembering our African ancestors and how passing traditions along helped these communities remember their past.

The first article I read dealt with the Cuban town of Perico and how their strong connection to Africa allowed them to reconnect with their slave past. I'll post the link below and let you read about it, I don't want to ruin it for you too much!

How Cuban Villagers Learned They Descended From Sierra Leone Slaves.

The next two videos deal with the Gullah people near the Carolinas, Georgia and the sea islands nearby. This one was truly amazing because they were able to connect to their past both by music and lifestyle.

The first one I saw was "The Language You Cry In"which was AMAZING to watch! And the second one was "Family Across the Sea" (Both deal with the same topic and overlap a bit). They are a little over 50 mins in length so make sure to set up some time aside if you plan to watch them!

They made me think a lot about my African past- which I have discussed in length on some other posts, mainly about my Martinican connection.

However, it is also makes me think about Puerto Rico and its past. Are there places on the island where language is tied strongly to certain dances and traditions? I know of Bomba and Plena but have never heard of certain African languages being used to sing the songs. I know there are words in Puerto Rico that originate in Africa but how strong is the overall connection?

There are many questions that I would love to research and learn more about. Just as our history is connected to the native Taíno and the Spanish, we must remember that our history is just as connected to Africa and we must reconnect there as well!


  1. Question? I'm to the point where in order to get more info I need to requested a birth or death certificate for an ancestor from the town my ancestor lived in before death, which is Juncos & Gurabo, PR. Have you had any luck with that. It's been super hard getting a hold of anyone on the phone. 90% of the time it just rings with no answer. I've tried various phone numbers via google but they all give me the same no answer results. Just wondering how you tackled this in your search.

    1. Hey Diana, Sorry for the late response! I personally haven't reached out to towns for records. Have you checked on FamilySearch to see if the towns are available? Also FamilySearch has microfilmed some of the churches in PR so you might be able to order the films and check them at a FamilySearch center rather then connecting with the actual town which I've heard can be an arduous task. Best of luck, hope that helps! Also, I haven't used but I'm considering becoming a member to see what kind of things they have!

  2. Sorry for all the questions but I have one more. Are you familiar with this site:
    If so has it helped you at all with your research?