Day of the Dead origins illuminate culture

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 Illustration by Ansley Lewis

Illustration by Ansley Lewis

By R. Eguia

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

This year’s Halloween is on a Friday, followed by All Saints’ Day on Saturday and the Day of the Dead celebration on Sunday; a complete weekend observing the dead.

According to the beliefs of the Nahua people, including Aztecas, Chichimecas, Tlaxcaltecas and Toltecas, life was seen as a dream.

Only in dying did a human truly awake. For them, the distinction between life and death was not so absolute.

This belief is the foundation of the celebration of Día de los Muertos, a time when the worlds of the living and the dead are more receptive to each other.

The celebration of the Mexican Day of the Dead is the best example of the blending of traditions, which many organizations in the city are doing, such as the Esperanza Center at 922 San Pedro Ave.

The center will be hosting events all weekend, including a free fresh flower preparation workshop noon-4 p.m. on Halloween to prepare marigolds for the weekend festivities.

Marigolds, water, incense, photographs of loved ones, candles, traditional Mexican food, like mole and tamales, are staples of the Day of the Dead altar.

Frank Peralez, trilingual certification student, said mole is his favorite part of the celebration. He said his family always looked forward to the holiday when he lived in the Valley, but since he moved alone to San Antonio, he does not participate as much.

He added, “The traditional Day of the Dead form is up for interpretation,” a trend observed across the city.

Although the Day of the Dead has a public aspect at the community level, it is essentially a private or family feast. The core of the celebration is within the family home.

Jose Martinez, a real estate student, celebrates his family’s past on Día de Los Muertos and said the celebration is for the memory.

“It’s not fun, but you remember how great the people were and still are, how much you miss them, and how important they still are,” Martinez said.

“Our focus is to pay tribute to the holiday in an honest and authentic way,” Itza Carbajal of the center said. “We decided to have the community celebration on Saturday, so that families would not have to choose between Halloween or Día de los Muertos.”

The Saturday celebration will begin at 3 p.m. with a tour of San Fernando Cemetery No. 1. It continues until 9 p.m. at Rinconcito de Esperanza, 816 S. Colorado, with calaveras face painting, a dance procession by local dance troupe Urban 15, calaveras readings and music by several local groups.

For more information, call the center at 210- 228-0201.

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