Click Here for Goodwin Living Citizenship Program

Learn More

Diversity Equality Inclusion - November 10, 2023

How We Connect with Our Heritage and Celebrate Our Ancestors

by Hannah Fields

When we think about heritage and where we come from, people often turn to DNA tests and stories passed down through their families to connect with and celebrate those parts of who they are. As November begins, many of us focus on holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas as ways to celebrate and come together as a family, but some cultures have other ways to celebrate our heritage and those who have come before us.

In some religious and cultural traditions, the first few days of November are significant for celebrating those who have passed. In some Christian practices, All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Souls Day (Nov 2) are times when churches and families celebrate those who have died. In Ireland, All Souls Day follows a very traditional holiday called Samhain (pronounced “Sow-in”). We know this day as Halloween in the United States. To those of Celtic descent and who practice Wicca, Samhain marks the Celtic New Year, and a time when the veil between the living and the dead is believed to be thinnest. The act of creating an altar to leave food and photos to feed visiting spirits is just one way that people who observe these traditions can connect with their ancestors.

That last description might seem familiar to some, and it should. One of the most well-recognized celebrations during this time is Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This is a traditional Mexican holiday that runs annually from Nov 1 to Nov 2, though many people celebrate it around the world. According to the tradition, these two days are a time that reunites the living and the dead.

My family is Hispanic, and this time is for us to connect with those of our family who have passed and spend time reminiscing with those who are still here. are created with pictures and some of our relatives’ favorite objects and food to welcome them home. We also use yellow marigolds to guide them to the ofrenda from the afterlife. We don’t use these days to mourn, but to celebrate our family. It’s a time full of activities and laughter to honor those who have passed.

There are many other celebrations that happen year-round in different countries, different religions and different cultures that celebrate family heritage and honor those who have passed — too many to list at one time and many I may not be aware of. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, a time when many families in the U.S. come together, take some time to think about what your family and heritage mean to you and how can you celebrate them more than once a year. Find ways to celebrate in a way that is meaningful to you and share those traditions with others. Create wonderful memories and traditions that can be passed on to your loved ones and remember that “our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them” (George Eliot).


Goodwin Living DEI Committee: Statement of Purpose: Educate, Embrace, and Empower team members, residents, members* and all served by Goodwin Living to support Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.

Goodwin Living DEI Committee Desired Outcome: The Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Committee (DEI) will seek open and honest communication and collaboration that will inform and celebrate the age, culture, ethnicity and sexual orientation of team members, residents, members* and all served by Goodwin Living without bias. *Members include Priority Club members and Goodwin Living At Home.

Questions or comments? Please contact us


Most Popular Articles

Related Articles

one year of growing together with the DEI Committee

July 29, 2021 - Diversity Equality Inclusion

One Year of Growing Together with the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee

On the first anniversary of the formation of the DEI Committee at Goodwin Living, Theresa Thomas and other members of the committee share their reflections on the past year.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The keys of Jewish residents who were forced from their homes during the Holocaust.

January 26, 2024 - Diversity Equality Inclusion

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 

In the latest DEI Friday Thoughts, Lauren Kipfer shares her personal essay about International Holocaust Remembrance Day and her grandparents' journey as Holocaust survivors.

DEI Committee

September 10, 2021 - Diversity Equality Inclusion

High Holy Days

Rabbi Gail Fisher shares the true meaning and purpose of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish year.

Copyright © 1967-2024 Goodwin House Incorporated. All Rights Reserved.

Equal housing opportunity logo ADA Site Compliance SAGE Care Top Workplaces to work Handicap Accessible Pet Friendly