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Dia De Los Muertos

A Special Holiday
Group+of+three+performing+music+on+stage
Leonardo Roman
Group of three performing music on stage

Dia de los Muertos is a holiday many associate with Halloween because of the similar themes and close dates. Despite this, the two holidays are quite different. Halloween revolves around everything spooky and dark, while Dia de los Muertos instead promotes the idea that the scariest thing of all, death, should instead be celebrated using bright colors and vibrant lights. Of course, a similarity between the two is having fun and sweat treats.

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Latin America and everywhere Hispanic/Latino people exist. People celebrate by putting up Ofrendas, which are altars consisting of colorful cloth and paper as well as photos of the deceased. Other offerings include but are not limited to, the favorite foods of the deceased, sugar skulls, and most importantly, Flor de Muertos, or as you may know them, marigolds. These flowers are believed to guide spirits towards Ofrendas and allow them to enjoy the festivities, which is why you can find them scattered along the streets and homes of many during the celebration.

One thing that most are unaware of is the reason why Dia de los Muertos lasts 3 whole days. The truth is, even if it’s only 3 days, for many, the festivities start long before the holiday and even go on after. As for the official days themselves, it’s believed each one has a different importance. On the start of November 1st exactly at midnight, the gates of the underworld are opened, and the spirits of dead children come to visit the land of the living, thus starting Dia de los Angelitos (day of the little angels).

It’s at this time that Ofrendas honoring the passed children are put up, these Ofrendas are filled with their favorite foods as well as toys, and many play the games the children once did. This day is dedicated to letting the spirits of children reunite with their living parents and enjoy a day of fun. After that, on November 2nd Dia de los Difuntos starts and is much of the same except for adults. Ofrendas have more mature offerings such as alcohol and Pan de Muerto. November 3rd is the last day and is when spirits of all kinds come to enjoy the festivities. This is how it’s been celebrated for years.

Here in Bellingham, we have a huge Latino community that is always growing. So of course, we had to have a Dia de los Muertos celebration of our own. This event took place on November 1st and was held in Syre Auditorium at Whatcom Community College. This event included delicious food, fun music, and performances. A local group of dancers called the Chicas Rienas performed beautiful Baile Folklorico for all those present, another performance was Dan Za Azteca where we took part in a practice of this holiday from ancient times. It was free of charge to enter and promoted as a family event, as the goal was to create a safe place for any community member and their family to celebrate such a joyous occasion.

Dancers performing Baile Folklorico twirling skirts (Leonardo Roman)
Dancers Performing Dan Za Azteca (Leonardo Roman)
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