Carson City – Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration that originated in Mexico and according to researchers at the National Geographic Society, is a blend of ancient Aztec ritual and Catholicism.
According to tradition, at midnight on October 31, the souls of deceased children descend from heaven to visit their families on November 1. The following day, the souls of dead adults visit the living. The celebrations are marked with festivals and altars and coincide with the minor Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
To learn more about this tradition and three local events to celebrate it, Mina Stafford curator of education at the Nevada State Museum, Lupe Ramirez Latino outreach coordinator at WNC, and Mark Salinas Arts and Culture Coordinator for Carson City stopped by the KNVC studios recently and spoke with Brian Bahouth …
The first of three local events was a Paint, Sip and Chip held in the Adam’s Hub studio at 111 Proctor St. in Carson City, and according to reports, the event was well attended.
Lupe Ramirez is Latino Outreach Coordinator for Western Nevada College and said she is planning an event on Thursday November 1 between 11 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the Bristlecone Building on the campus of Western Nevada College to hold an altar contest and other activities intended to share the Mexican cultural tradition.
“The idea is that the souls come back to visit with their loved ones, and so that is the reason why we create an altar because we want to make sure that that is a place where they actually go to,” Ramirez said. “So the altar is decorated by their loved ones, and it has the sugar skulls, it has the candles,it has the marigolds, all those important components that helps the souls actually find their way to the altar.”
At the beginning of the fall semester at WNC, the Latino Cohort held a meet and greet event at the college where Latino students and their parents convened to meet college staff and administrators, and for Lupe Ramirez, taking time to celebrate Mexican traditions like Dios De Los Muertos helps better integrate Spanish speaking families into the college and regional communities.
“To the parents it’s even more meaningful because they actually experienced it and lived it,” Ramirez said. “These students were born here. They’re US citizens, so many of them have not had the opportunity to actually experience what this event is actually about or the meaning behind it, so when we give them the opportunity to be involved, it really does mean a lot to them, and they learn. They share this with their parents, and of course their parents couldn’t be more proud of their children to see that their children are appreciating these customs and traditions.”
Mina Stafford is Curator of Education at the Nevada State Museum and said the museum has been celebrating Dia De Los Muertos since 2006, and this year’s event will be held in the Nevada State Museum at 600 N. Carson St in Carson City on Saturday November 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
“We are of course a museum of all of Nevada,” Stafford said. “We want to celebrate and understand the cultural history of everyone in Nevada, and since there is such a strong community of Hispanic and Latino people in Nevada, and even a long heritage of that. This part of the country was part of Mexico before 1848, so very much part of the American experience has to do with those traditions in Mexico and Central America.”
For more from Mark Salinas, Lupe Ramirez, and Mina Stafford, listen to the audio interview embedded above …