Las Cruces, NM - On this edition of PUENTES, bridges to the community, host Emily Guerra meets with Founder and retired Artistic Director of the Court Youth Center and Alma D’Arte Charter High School, Irene Oliver-Lewis, to talk about a cultural and religious tradition that dates back to the Aztecs and the indigenous people of Mexico.
For centuries throughout Mexico and Latin America the spirits of the deceased are honored in a celebration called “Día de Los Muertos,” (Day of the Dead). The two-day celebration in Mexico is held on November 1st and 2nd and coincides with the Catholic commemoration of All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day. Families gather at cemeteries in Mexico to clean up grave sites of their loved ones and to set up altars. Oliver-Lewis says that “there are specific elements that should be included in each altar, symbols that go back to the Aztec: Water - to replenish themselves when they get to their space; Salt - to purify things; Incense, Copal, - is used to cleanse the air; Marigolds - which is the flower of the dead; and “papel picado,”- intricately cut paper.”
Día de Los Muertos will be celebrated throughout our communities. The Town of Mesilla will begin their festival on Friday, October 28th by setting up altars on the plaza; events continue through Sunday, October 30th and will include arts and crafts, food, and family entertainment. Las Esperanzas in the Mesquite District of Las Cruces, and La Semilla Food Center in Anthony will begin their celebrations on Saturday, October 29th. The Branigan Cultural Center will participate on Tuesday, November 1st through November 5th with a community altar.