Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos and Día de Muertos, is a traditional holiday celebrated in Mexico on November 1 and 2. Intended to be a joyful occasion of remembrance, the holiday focuses on gathering family and friends to honor and pray for loved ones who have passed on, and to help support their spiritual journey.
Day of the Dead is a time for the living to remember the dead and encourage a visit through pictures, stories, their favorite foods and music. (Photo: elsoldetoluca.com.mx)
Traditions activities include building private altars called ofrendas; honoring the deceased with decorated sugar skulls, strings of marigolds, their favorite foods and beverages, baking pan de muerto, a sweet bread, writing calaveras literarias, light-hearted epitaphs, and by visiting graves with these gifts.
Today, Day of the Dead celebrations have become a part of mainstream culture in the US, particularly here in New Mexico. Whether you have long celebrated the holiday, or are just learning about it, here are a few events and a few places in Santa Fe that honor this cultural tradition.
October 13, 2022
Sugar Skull! A Día de Muertos Musical Adventure
(Photo courtesy of Lensic Performing Arts Center)
Presented by the Lensic Performing Arts Center, this bilingual/bicultural musical for young audiences and families follows the inner life of 12-year-old Vita Flores, who learns the true meaning of Día de Muertos with the help of her friend Sugar Skull, a charismatic skeleton.
October 28 & 29, 2022
First-Ever Día de Muertos on the Santa Fe Plaza
It's the inaugural Día de Muertos on the Plaza! Join your fellow Santa Feans as we honor all of our fellow ancestors on Friday, October 28 from 4–10 pm with festive mariachi music on the Plaza stage, festooned for the occasion with papeles picados (traditional colorful paper decorations). Grab a bite to eat and some refreshments from the variety of food trucks serving signature Mexican foods. Enjoy brightly colored masks, decorative skulls, and hundreds of marigolds!
Saturday, the celebration continues from 10 am to 10 pm with more music, decorative ofrendas—commemorative altars—and a Glow-in-the-Dark Parade.
October 28–November 19, 2022
Artist Nicholas Herrera at EVOKE Contemporary
"La Delta" by Nicholas Herrera
Folk artist Nicholas Herrera embraces the time-honored tradition of El Día de los Muertos with his exploration in mixed media, paintings, and hand-carved wood in an exhibition at EVOKE Contemporary. A storied artist, Herrera says he celebrates the Day of the Dead every day, with his work often hints at mortality. He is know both locally and nationally for works that reflect the heritage of traditional Santero art and address important contemporary social and political views.
October 29 & 30, 2022
(Photo courtesy of Teatro Paraguas)
Teatro Paraguas, a small Santa Fe theater company, once again presents a weekend program for Día de los Muertos, including an altar, music, dance, and a few short skits. Suggested donation is $5–10 for adults (children admitted for free). The altar will be open for visitors through Wednesday, November 2. (Teatro Paraguas produces the works of New Mexican playwrights, as well as contemporary, award-winning Latinx plays in English and bilingual productions of Hispanic/Latinx poetry and classic cuentos or folk tales.)
October 30, 2022
Museum of International Folk
Bring the family and learn the art of sugar skull making. (Photo courtesy of Museum of International Folk Art)
A Santa Fe favorite, the Museum of International Folk Art hosts a community celebration in honor of Día de los Muertos at Museum Hill on Sunday, October 30, 2022. Head over to decorate sugar skulls, sample traditional Mexican treats like pan de muerto, and view the altar (ofrenda). The museum shop also has a good selection of muertos items for sale.
Many Day of the Dead figurines depict ordinary daily life as a reminder of our time on Earth. (Photo courtesy of TOURISM Santa Fe)
In the heart of Santa Fe is a special little shop filled with laughter and joy, enchantment, and whimsy. This shop, Doodlet's, is a Santa Fe favorite and since 1955 has been a go-to for imaginative gifts to celebrate any occasion, especially Día de los Muertos season.
Gregory Segura Studio
(Photo: Gregory Segura Studio)
Award-winning metals artist Gregory Segura has a particular fascination with Day of the Dead and a vast collection of skull-prominent sterling silver jewelry pieces. Self-taught Segura writes on his website: "I think it's important to explain why I make my skull designs. Yes I ride a motorcycle, I love the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) style but I make my skulls to remind us we are mortal. Our life has an expiration date and it is important to live it to the fullest. To live it right, to treat others with respect because eventually you have to answer for it." Indeed! You can make an appointment to visit Segura's studio and showroom to see these Day of the Dead-related pieces and more by reaching out through this form.
If you can’t visit Santa Fe over the Day of the Dead season, you can still enjoy the rousing sounds of Nosotros, a popular local Latin band, via their award-winning video En El Más Allá (in the afterlife). Their earnest refrain is: "Para toda mi gente en el más allá, cantamos en memoria de ti." ( "For all my people in the afterlife, we sing in memory of you.")
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