Arts & Culture

Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is not a Mexican Halloween

Mario Lotmore | Last Updated 11.26.2019

Day of the Dead is a two-day festival dedicated to deceased love ones and family members.   Offerings, or ofrendas, honor the deceased family member.  Altars are decorated with bright yellow marigold flowers, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased. Offerings are believed to encourage visits of the departed souls by hearing their prayers and smelling their favorite foods.

The Day of the Little Angels starts the holiday at midnight on November 1.  It is believed that for 24 hours, the spirits of deceased children will reunite with their families.  At midnight on the following day, love ones honor the lives of the departed adults. The grand finale on November 2 is called Spirits of all the Dead. People dress up wearing suits and fancy dresses to mimic the calavera Catrina and paint their faces to resemble skulls.

Day of the Dead originated some 3,000 years ago with the Aztec and Toltec people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. Today it is a combination of pre-Latino and Christian rituals.

Lynnwood Councilwoman elect Dr. Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, who was born and raised in Mexico, and founder of the WA-GRO Foundation; led Day of the Dead festivities at Everett Community College.

“This is a unique day to connect with our ancestors and honor their stories,” Altamirano-Crosby told the Lynnwood Times when asked what this celebration means to her.  She added, “It is important that we pass this tradition to the next generation and keep it alive.”

Lynnwood resident Stephany Dentery dressed up as a calavera Catrina.  The outfit, influenced by Diego Rivera and Jose Guadalupe Posada, and makeup, took 10 to 12 hours to complete.  “The marigolds are to attract the souls to earth; whereas, the monarch butterfly represents the souls that are here.”

Sponsors for the event were State Farm, Delta/Aero México, WAGRO and Everett Community College. Dafne Powell, Program Manager for the Diversity and Equity Center at Everett Community College helped organized the event. 

“This is our second year and we had 300 attendees, twice as much as last year.  It is important to celebrate one’s culture. Everett Community College is open and welcome to everyone in the community.”

If you would like to learn more or to participate in next year’s Day of the Dead festival, contact Dafne Powell at d.powell@everettcc.edu.

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