"Because we feel that on November first and second the heavens open and the spirits of our loved ones are allowed to come down to earth and visit us, we wait for them at home with a presentation like this."
The custom is for families to build, or put together, what's called ofrendas, which are alters. It can be as simple as a table or more elaborate. They place things the person liked, like his favorite food or drink. Things to remember him by. They also set out pictures of the loved one. Ramirez teaches a class on ofrendas. He says although they may use things like skulls for decorations — the holiday is not supposed to be scary like Halloween.
"It's a worldwide tradition. Most cultures have had a way of remembering and honoring their loved ones. It's we Americans that have dragged behind and have not done this in honor and I think this is good."
In some cities there are festivals and parades on Dia de los Muertos. Some people even go to cemeteries to visit the departed. There are no witches or vampires, no monsters or creepy creatures. It's called day of the dead, but it's actually a celebration of life.
Bill Stamps, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.