Who says skeletons are scary? That’s simply not the case in the celebration of Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). It is as colorful and vibrant as the Calaveras (skulls) that the day is famous for. I became aware of the holiday last year as I was planning a vacation to Mexico that would coincide with the holiday. During my travels, the air was pungent with the smell of marigolds and the air ripe with festive mariachi music. I saw thousands of beautiful calaveras and ofrendas, dressed and danced as the tradition dictates, and had the time of my life doing so.
A combination of the indigenous Aztec tradition of honoring their dead relatives, as well as the Catholic holiday All Soul’s Day. This festival is celebrated widely throughout Mexico and Latin American, and is spreading into the United States.
Celebrated November first and second, this is the most important holiday of the year. First, families tend to the graves of deceased loved ones, as graveyards are not managed by the state, as they are here in America. On November first, the souls of children who passed away prematurely are honored. This is called the Day of the Innocents, or El Día de los Inocentes. White orchids and baby’s breath are placed on these graves. On the first, the Day of the Dead is celebrated in great fashion! There are parades of people dressed as calacas (skeletons) and calaveras, followed by a gathering in the graveyard with a feast. They enjoy tamales, a special bread called pan de muertos, music and festivities. The belief is that the dead would be offended with mourning, so instead, they celebrate!
This year, we are bringing a bit of Mexico to Boone County with our first Day of the Dead program, at the Florence Branch, 7425 US 42, on Thursday, November 2 at 6:30 p.m. We have plenty of fun in store for you! In collaboration with the Spanish club and language classes at St. Henry, students are building traditional altars (ofrendas) which will be on display. These altars are constructed using marigolds and sugar cane. The scent is believed to guide the spirit of the dead back home. Each ofrenda is dedicated to the life of an individual and decorated with pictures, their favorite foods and drinks, sugar skulls, and trinkets of the dead. In addition to viewing these altars, we have the following activities planned:
- Children can decorate a Sugar Skull Magnet to take home with them.
- Try a bit of Pan de Muerto
- Listen to the story The Day of the Dead /El Día de los Muertos: A Bilingual Celebration by Bob Barner
- Experience traditional dancing by the Cincinnati Baila Academy
- Learn about the traditional Literary Calaveras or calavera poems which are an important expression of Dia de Muertos.
We hope you’ll join us at this cultural celebration on November 2!
Day of the Dead
Florence Branch, 7425 US 42, in Florence
Thursday, November 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Micha O’Connor, Community Events Liaison for Youth Services, doesn’t scare easily- she used to work in a haunted house. She grew up reading Goosebumps, Scary Stories to tell in the Dark, and watching horror movies with her friends.