Marquette, MI – Dia de los Muertos…what is that? Well, IT ISN’T MEXICAN HALLOWEEN! Celebrated around the same time of the year they are two completely different holidays and share some roots but completely different aesthetics and meanings. Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost. It is when the living and the spirits of the dead come together.
Dia de los Muertos takes place on November 1st and 2nd primarily but often spans another day or two both directions. There are parades, preparations, and so much more that go into this incredible holiday. Mexican families will go to cemeteries and decorate the resting places of loved ones with marigolds, candles, pan de muerte, and more. From there a trail of marigold petals is left to lead the spirits from their burial spots to the homes of their loved ones where an “ofrenda” is built. An ofrenda is a large altar built and decorated with flowers, candles, “calaveras”, and most importantly photos of loved ones lost and their favorite foods are prepared and left for their spirits to enjoy during their visit.
Some of the things that people do when celebrating are to decorate the sugar skulls, make masks or costumes, make special food like pan de muerte, decorate homes, or sing songs. The more modern look of the “calaveras” of Dia de los Muertos comes from a Mexican artist from named Jose Guadalupe Posada, famous for his La Catrina character. Monarch butterflies are known to migrate to Mexico for the winter months. They arrive at this time of year and for Dia de los Muertos it is said they represent the spirit of the children returning to the land of the living.
How can you celebrate Dia de los Muertos here in Marquette? There are a few ways you can join in some of the festivities. Make some of the favorite foods of your loved ones that are no longer here. Go support your favorite Mexican food restaurant in town like La Catrina Cocina Mexicana. Watch “Book of Life” and “Coco” on Disney+ as both movies center around the celebration and history of Dia de los Muertos. Visit The Art Drop Shop & Studio in the Masonic and make a Dia de los Muertos art project, or to learn more about the holiday (until Friday).