Día de los Muertos – The Day of the Dead – It sounds so full of mystery, so dark and mystical. But the annual celebration is actually one of Mexico’s most colorful events when dead relatives, both young and old, are said to return to the mortal world for two days to visit loved ones and catch up on old times.
Spirits coming down and walking among the living, sampling earthly treats and joining in the festival – it sounds like a merry version of our Halloween holiday. But in reality, the tradition is rooted in both Hispanic history and in the ancient American world of the Olmec and Maya, the Azrec and Toltec – from America’s pre-European past. It is a tradition both indigenous and post Hispanic, a marriage of ancient rite and the Christian All Saints Day celebration of the Catholic Church.
In Oaxaca City, the mixing of Pre-Hispanic and Catholic cultural and religious traditions make for a colorful and magical occasion. Local markets burst with preparatory activities, bakers light the midnight oil to prepare loaves of the special “pan de muertos” (bread of the dead), and playful skeleton imagery dominates storefronts and artisan themes.
The festival formally begins on October 31st, many families pay honor to their ancestors or deceased loved-ones with the careful and sometimes elaborate construction of an in-house altar. The offerings consist of flowers, food and drinks, candles, photos of the deceased, and incense such as copal. While the occasion is at times solemn, it is also tinged with joyful anticipation and even humor.
Texas has long maintained a close tie with Mexico and especially with the Day of the Dead tradition. From largely Hispanic communities along the border to even museums and art galleries in the state’s larger cities, the Day of the Dead tradition has been kept alive and is widely celebrated.
Day of the Dead Port Isabel
This October, Port Isabel will once again host its “Los Colores de Muerto!” Day of the Dead celebration. However, in addition to the traditional decorations, music and treats, Port Isabel will be adding a few modern activities to the event. About.com Texas Guide Dano Wise reports October 31 will see decorated altars and artwork displayed at the Museums of Port Isabel. There will also be guided tours of the historic Port Isabel Cemetery, folk songs, traditional dances and the folk play.
Corpus Christi Day of the Dead
This Mexican tradition is not so much about death as it is a spiritual journey for your loved ones. Everyone in attendance will pay respects to their lost friends and family, yet this is not a melancholy experience. Downtown Corpus Christi is alive and kicking with multiple stages of live entertainment such as traditional Mexican culture performances and local bands. In addition, you’ll find Día de Los Muertos-themed artwork and accessories, tons of fun children’s activities and challenging games to play.
Day of the Dead Fiesta – Houston
Lawndale Art Center presents the 29th Annual Día de los Muertos series of programs. Join the art center as they celebrate the art, music, and folklife of Mexico through an exhibition of artist-made retablos, student installations, workshops, and performances.
Dia de los Muertos – Ft. Worth
The Amon Carter is excited to sponsor an art-making booth at Artes de la Rosa’s annual Día de los Muertos celebration! This free family festival features a drum and puppet procession from Marine Park to the Rose Marine Theater Plaza. This event will take place at the Rose Marine Theater Plaza, not at the Amon Carter. For more information about the event, please call 817.624.8333.
Day of the Dead Food Celebration – Dallas
The Latino Cultural Center hosts its annual Día de los Muertos Festival Oct. 25. This day-long traditional festival will include sugar skull and papel picado workshops, Aztec dancers on the plaza, an altar exhibition and much more. For more information, call 214-671-0045.
Museum of South Texas – McAllen/Edinburg
New this year for Día de los Muertos at MOSTHistory is the panteón – a way to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on. Expect traditional music, food, artisans and much more! The featured artist will be Alex Reyes, who will include Día de los Muertos theme pastels and acrylics. Learn more about Día de los Muertos through hands-on activities including face painting, sugar skull decorating, paper flower making and so much more!
Dia de los Muertos – San Antonio
Experience the unforgettable spectacle San Antonio’s annual Día de los Muertos celebrations. Also known as “the Day of the Dead”, this is a tradition in which families remember the departed and share memories of loved ones, with a variety of activities including lively processions, traditional dress and altar building, as well as the chance to make amazing memories. (various dates and locations) visitsanantonio.com