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Unlike Halloween, Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is not meant to be a sad or frightening holiday, but rather an uplifting time to remember loved ones who have passed on. It is a party, full of colors and joyful motifs that refer to death from another perspective. With the heritage of indigenous culture, Latin Americans who celebrate Día de Muertos take this opportunity to be close to their loved ones and celebrate life.
The topic may scare some people, especially those who relate to death in a negative way, but in Mexico and the other Latin American countries that celebrate this day, the topic of the dead has more positive connotations. The Day of the Dead is a time for the spirits of the dead to return home and visit loved ones, feast on their favorite foods and listen to their favorite music.
In their homes, families honor their deceased loved ones with ofrendas or altares – offerings or altars – which may consist of photographs, bread, other foods, flowers, toys and other symbolic items.
Ofrendas may contain hand-made or store-bought items. People make altars for their loved ones, pets and even their heroes in the spirit of remembrance. Each of the items has a traditional significance to help guide them on their journeys.
CLUES celebrated Día de Muertos with a Community Altar Project in our new Latino Art Gallery. More than 100 people participated in the altar creation, including students in CLUES ESL classes. In addition to making paper flowers and co-creating the altar, they learned some art and color vocabulary.
Artist Flor Surabe Soto from Austin, MN, facilitated the creation of the altar, and led a drop-in workshop throughout the evening to make paper Cempasúchil flowers. She also brought two paper-mache sculptures of Frida Khalo and La Catrina. In addition, Artist Cadex Herrera shared her beautiful portraits paying respect to children and adults who have died in ICE custody or crossing the border this year. CLUES staff and community members also contributed photos and ofrendas for their loved ones who have passed on. You can watch a video created by Artist Flor Surabe with the highlights of the event.
If you could not attend yesterday, we invite you to contribute a photograph, a poem or an ofrenda to our altar. There is still plenty of space. CLUES is your home and this space is for all.