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October 2021

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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Photo by E. Wilde: An old grave marker at Questa's original cemetery located off of Cisneros Road.

Cemeteries and Funeral Rituals and Tradition

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Back in June of this year, when I was leading the tour of the Questa History Trail with a group of our Vida Camp kids, I found it interesting that the cemetery seemed to be the high- light of the entire walk, at least for this group. Several of the camp kids were interested in the fact that many of the people buried in the cemetery were buried during the 1920s.


I told them about the pandemic (Spanish Flu) from a century ago and related it to the pandemic now. We dis- cussed the similarities and differences. We also discussed some of the traditions that we have here in northern New Mexico and how important the burial process is for our community.
We shared how difficult this year has been for families who couldn’t gather
when their loved ones passed. It is a local tradition that we gather and feast during the time of death—it is said that we eat away the sins of the departed and this helps get them to
where they are going. That is one of the reasons why, when someone passes, people will normally bring food and drink to the family’s home.


I have recently become one of our local historians with the Manitos Project and I have chosen to concentrate on cemeteries and death rituals, especially considering the time of year when we celebrate El Dia de
los Muertos
(Day of the Dead) and Halloween. I have obtained some of the pictures that the kids took during our walk, and hope to involve some of these young minds in my research project that will unlock some of these traditions and history.

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