Growing up in the United States, I came to associate death with scary things like illness and separation. Also, my parents never really observed Día de los Muertos. (My parents are from northern Mexico, where Día de los Muertos wasn’t historically celebrated until the 20th century. It’s historically celebrated in southern Mexico and Central America.)
So when I encountered the celebration as a college student through a beautiful altar at UNM Centro de la Raza, I found that Día de los Muertos is such a beautiful memorial of loved ones that have departed from this world.
Día de los Muertos is celebrated every year on November 1st. Historians can be trace the holiday back to Mesoamerican cultures that pre-date the Europeans’ arrival to the Americas. It was a celebration dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl (“Lady of the Dead”). Traditionally, it took place in the summer. But with the syncretism with Christianity, it came to be associated with “All Saints Day” in November.
In Mexico and Central America, families gather to visit their deceased loved ones and celebrate their life by cooking their favorite foods, playing their favorite music, and spending time together remembering the life of the loved one.
Participants build altars as well, containing photos and ofrendas or offerings of food and Marigold flowers. Also associated with Día de los Muertos are sugar skulls and la Catrina, which has become an icon for this holiday. People also use Papel picado to create altars.
Día de los Muertos is starting to become a commercialized holiday here in the United States. Some movies like The Book of Life in 2014, and the upcoming Disney film Coco reveal this commercialization. But many may not realize that this a very important holiday for many Latino families. Día de los Muertos is a holiday that celebrates life. And it is truly a joy to see how many people gleefully remember their departed loved ones.
There are events in Albuquerque to celebrate Día de los Muertos with your family!
This event is on November 5, 2017. The parade starts 2pm at the Bernalillo Sheriff”s Substation at Centro Familiar and Isleta. Music, altars, food and art vendors to follow the parade at the Westside Community Center 1250 Isleta Blvd SW. Come in your best calavera attire!
Día de los Muertos Ofrenda Installation at the National Hispanic Cultural Center
Each year the NHCC works with schools and community organizations to host an Ofrenda (altar) Installation, in celebration of Día de los Muertos. Participants submissions will be on display will be in the Domenici Education Building and the Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts October 16, 2017 to November 10, 2017.
For more information or questions please call or email Elena at [email protected] or 505-383-4734
Free community event
November 3, 5 pm to 7 pm
Día de Muertos is an annual traditional holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and many Hispanic communities. Join the NHCC and experienced, knowledgeable local artists to learn about the meaning of this celebration, the traditional arts and crafts associated with the celebration and development of ofrendas that honor families and individuals.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center will hold its annual Despedida to celebrate Día de los Muertos with music, poetry and hands-on art making at this time-honored community gathering. This is a great event for all ages. Tour the ofrendas around the NHCC campus; enjoy music, traditional chocolate mexicano, pan de muertos, and sharing of special and heartfelt memories.
For more information please call or email David Torres at 505-246-2261 or [email protected]
Free community event