Oct. 31 in the U.S. might be best known for Halloween, but the day also marks the start of another holiday. Dia de los Muertos — “Day of the Dead” — is a Mexican holiday that honors the death of family members and ancestors and will end on Monday.
Dia de los Muertos is a result of the culture blending of Aztec spirituality and medieval European rituals after the Spaniards’ arrival in central America in the 16th century. Those who celebrate the holiday visit cemeteries to honor loved ones. Private altars are decorated with photos, keepsakes and favorite dishes once enjoyed by the departed.
Traditions include laying Mexican marigolds, and the popular image of the sugar skull, which is seen throughout the celebration. Since the holiday’s origins, women have used clay and sugar to mold small statues of skulls, angels and animals. It is also common to use face paint and eat traditional foods such as pan de muertos (“sweet bread of the dead”), champurrado (hot chocolate) and sopa azteca (spicy tortilla soup).
Although praying is an important component of the holiday there are many lively celebrations to mark the happiness present during the people’s lives. There are many outdoor festivals and traditional song and dance that people partake in.
This holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico, parts of Brazil and Spain and even right here in New York City! There are many events going on around the city if you want to experience this cultural celebration.
- Dia De Los Muertos Weekend Celebration
The New York Botanical Garden: 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
The procession on Saturday and Sunday will feature displays of huge skeletons, butterflies and “La Catrina,” the face of this holiday. From 10 a.m., visitors will be able to create their own “Day of the Dead” masks or have their faces painted at the garden.
- Mexican Culture Without Borders Day of the Dead Celebration
East Yard at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery: 131 East 10th St.
Hosted by the organization “Mano a Mano,” the event on Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. will raise awareness about Mexican culture. Visitors will have the chance to experience live music, eat authentic Mexican food and submit pictures of deceased loved ones to be projected throughout the night. Celebrations will also be occur Nov. 1 and 2 from 1 to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
- Middle Main Celebration of Dia De Los Muertos
On Oct. 30-31: Mid-Hudson Heritage Center, 317 Main St.
On Nov. 1: 189 Church St.
This festival will be held at two different locations with a packed schedule of events. From Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, featured events will include a display of student art, a haunted bike ride and, on Nov. 1, the grand celebration which will guarantee lots of food, dance, music, art activities and face painting. Visitors are encouraged to bring items to place on the altar that will be on location.
Oct. 30 from 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 31 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Nov. 1 from 4-8 p.m.
- Fiesta del Dia de Los Muertos
Corona Plaza: 103rd Street & Roosevelt Avenue, Queens
On Saturday, visitors will be treated to delicious Mexican food, dancing and singing as well as educational talks about the unique holiday. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., there will also be rituals at a large altar that will be decorated by members of the community.
Email Ankita Bhanot at [email protected]