The Tradition of Dia de Muertos

In Mexico and for people of Mexican descent, October 31 to November 2 is Dia de Muertos, a time of prayer and remembrance of friends and family who have passed. Anglophones know it as Day of the Dead or traditionally, Dia de Muertos. 

Day of the Dead has been celebrated in Central America for millennia and stems from pre-Columbian spiritual rituals. Traditionally, on October 31st, the spirits of children visit altars other children have assembled for them. The next day, adult spirits appear. On the third and last day, families travel to cemeteries to leave marigolds and offerings for those who have passed.

The Mexican tradition of Dia de Muertos has spread throughout South America and even as far as Missoula, Montana, where people dressed as skeletons parade on bicycles, and the Czech Republic, where residents make sugar skulls and perform plays about their ancestors. Check out this celebration held annually at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

As the harvest ends and winter begins, other cultures and spiritual traditions also honor the dead. Halloween might be the tradition you’re most familiar with, but the Christian festival of All Saints Day and Pagan Samhain are a few of many others. 

At Cargo, we embrace a fusion of cultures and spiritual beliefs to create our own celebration to honor our ancestors and loved ones. Our community Day of the Dead altar pays homage to the Mexican tradition of sugar skulls, vivid marigolds, and elaborately cut papel picado, but we integrate elements of Hinduism, paganism, and Northwestern greenery and offerings. 

We invite you to join us for Cargo’s annual Day of the Dead celebration on Saturday, November 3, from 3 pm to 7 pm. Bring a photo or offering for the altar, and enjoy Mexican sweets, Reverend Nat’s cider, kids’ crafts, tarot card reading, handwriting analysis, face painting, and more.

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