New Mexico is a melding of many cultures and ways of life both modern and centuries-old. These are woven together to form a vibrant tapestry of people and traditions unlike anything else in the nation. When we gather to celebrate Día de los Muertos, we honor not only our ancestors and loved ones who have died more recently, but our heritage as well.
A Mexican holiday dating back hundreds of years, Día de los Muertos originated with the Aztecs. Before Spanish colonization, the celebration took place during the summer. Later it was moved to autumn in order to coincide with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.
The modern iteration of the Día de los Muertos includes three days representing three related, but separate, ideologies — chock full of inspiring traditions that bring both closure as well as the feeling of time spent with a loved one who has passed. The celebrations are bright and elaborate, and they include the building of ofrendas (private altars) in celebration of the departed; honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds (the flower of the dead), and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed; and bringing gifts and belongings to graves. Other traditions include muertos (the bread of the dead); cardboard skeletons; tissue paper garlands; fruit and nuts; incense; and other traditional foods and decorations. The holiday is now celebrated around the world, and each culture brings their own unique twist to it.
The three days celebrate those who came before us and who have passed on. Death is an integral part of life, and one that we all experience, and Día De Los Muertos celebrations bring comfort and understanding instead of fear. During the end of October into early November, gatherings and parades are held throughout the state. Whether you celebrate every year or you’re simply checking it out for the first time, these community celebrations welcome you with open arms as you honor your own loved ones.
The Days of the Dead:
October 28th, 2018
Hands-on activities for ages 3 to 103. Enjoy live music, contribute to the community altar, and enjoy seasonal refreshments. Costumes are encouraged, not required.
November 3, 2018
Get into the celebratory spirit with live folklorico dancing, mariachi music, local music, and tons of opportunities for art: decorate your own sugar skull, create your own ofrenda, build paper marigolds, and enter your face-painting expertise in a costume contest.
November 2—4, 2018
Expect lots of music, folklorico dancing, food, and altars constructed for dearly departed family members. This community event is free to the public and held on the historic Mesilla plaza.
In Albuquerque, Día de los Muertos celebrations take place over several weeks in October and November, though the holiday is traditionally celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd. Here are a few upcoming events in the Albuquerque area: