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With This Mexican Tradition, Skulls & Ghosts Are Nothing to Be Scared Of

By: Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers | October 16, 2017

Halloween is a popular holiday in the U.S. and abroad, but did you know that October 31st also marks the beginning of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)? It’s a popular day of remembrance in Mexican culture that occurs October 31 – November 2. Families create altars (usually at the burial site of the dead) filled with memorabilia (photos, favorite items, clothing, etc.) of deceased loved ones. These altars are called “ofrendas” and are built to attract the souls of the departed so that they might better hear the voices of loved ones reaching out to them.

Typically, toys are placed on the ofrendas of deceased children, while alcohol, like tequila and mezcal, are placed on those of deceased adults. Orange, Mexican marigold flowers are also quite common and are colloquially known as “Flor de Muerto” (“Flower of Dead”) as they are believed to attract the souls of the deceased.

Ultimately, the three-day event is meant to strengthen the bond between the living and the dead by way of the former honoring the latter.

Now in its fifth year, Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos is an annual exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts where ofrenda altars designed by local artists have been submitted to a committee of DIA staff and local community members to be reviewed. Selected ofrendas will be on display to the public from Friday, October 13 until Sunday, November 12 in the Schwartz Galleries of the DIA.

The DIA will also be hosting workshops where you can learn more about Día de los Muertos, such as one about sugar skulls where you can decorate your own. Sugar skulls are known as such because they were originally made out of clay molded sugar. It is common to decorate sugar skulls with icing, feathers, beads and foils. Smaller sugar skulls, representing departed children, are placed on ofrendas on November 1. Larger skulls, representing departed adults, are placed on November 2.

Imperial in Ferndale will be holding its sixth annual Día de los Muertos celebration. This year, the event will take place November 2-3. Specific details for this year are yet to come, but expect lots of candy skull costumes, a redesigned menu and a charity skull auction.

How do you celebrate Halloween, Día de los Muertos and the like? Metro Detroit is filled with all kinds of cultures and celebrating what makes them unique is one of the best parts of living here.