On November 2, 2013, Conexiones Latinas helped launch an inaugural event in Bloomington-Normal to observe Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the Children's Discover Museum (Normal). On November 1 2015 we attended the 3rd annual event and the Ballet Folklorico performed, if you would like to get involved or have feedback from last year's event please let us know.
El Día de los Muertos was a family event and included
• Hands-on arts and craft activities
• Bilingual story time
• Traditional music
Attendance was free with paid Museum admission or tickets were available for purchase at the Museum. Some community tickets were made available through Conexiones Latinas and our community partners for families in need.
There was also:
- Día de los Muertos Service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington Normal
- McLean County Museum of History Exhibit, Activities and Panel Discussion
To learn more about this Latin holiday visit: A Brief History of Día de los Muertos for Children, excerpt:
Día de los Muertos is a very old Mexican tradition when people take the time to remember family members and friends who have died. Today, it is traditionally celebrated on November 1st and 2nd.
Because it is colorful and joyful, it is now celebrated by more and more people around the world.
Mexicans begin to get ready for the holiday about a week before Nov. 1. Panaderías (bakeries) are filled with pan de muertos (bread of the dead), and florists sell out of every kind of flower, especially the cempasúchil. Stores are filled with sugar skulls (calaveras) of every size, and museums proudly display their exhibits of skeleton figurines dressed as mariachis or everyday workers, such as plumbers, taxi drivers, or doctors.
In the days leading up to the holiday, each family creates a beautiful altar, sometimes referred to as an ofrenda, in their home. The altars are carefully decorated and covered in gifts. The altar is constructed with at least three levels. It is lovingly decorated by all family members with pictures of the loved ones that are being remembered.
Gifts of water, flowers, candles, and more may be placed on the altar. Each item has symbolic value. Some of the deceased's favorite foods and other items may also be included to honor their memory or recall their habits.
Calaveras, or skulls, can be placed on the altar as decoration. Sugar skulls, especially, have become quite popular. As their name suggests, these little skulls are made of sugar and taste like candy. They are usually decorated with icing to make them more fun and colorful. Not only are they great for decorating, but they are also yummy to eat. Smashing it with your fist and eating the shattered pieces is a way of showing that you've conquered death, if only symbolically.
The calaveras are often misunderstood by people who do not know the history of the holiday. The skulls are not intended to be scary, but rather symbolic: The skull represents the death of the body or the passing away of the person, and the decorative designs represent the beauty of their life.
Miniature skulls and skeletons, therefore, are not thought to be scary and are often left as toys for the deceased or to poke fun at death.