Redmond residents and surrounding communities gathered on Nov. 2 to celebrate life at the Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event at the Centro Cultural Mexicano in Redmond.
Families decorated sugar skulls, made maracas and honored loved ones by placing their photos on a community altar. Special performances included a poetry reading by Michael Dylan Welch, Nicole La Follette and Rose Ramm and an interactive improv theater workshop by Once Told Tales. Traditional Mexican food was also available for purchase at the event.
According to Carlos Jimenez and Angie Hinojos Yusuf — executive director and director for the center, respectively — about 200 people attended the event throughout the day.
“It’s bigger than we expected,” Jimenez said. “I think it’s a need in our community. The community is hungry for these [types] of events. The purpose was to share our Mexican culture.”
For Angelica Reyna of Woodinville, she said events like the Day of the Dead are a priority in her family.
“It’s a priority to not lose our roots,” she said. “These kind of events help us to be close to our roots and our country. It makes us feel close.”
Día de los Muertos is an annual Mexican tradition that is now celebrated on the first two days of November. The tradition celebrates the lives of departed loves ones and the new life that comes from death. Nov. 1 is reserved for honoring deceased children and Nov. 2 is reserved for deceased adults. The origins of Día de Los Muertos are rooted in Mesoamerican culture and possibly Aztec festivals that celebrated the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The Aztecs believed it was offensive to mourn the dead. Instead they celebrated life.
One way Día de los Muertos is celebrated is by constructing altars. Altars are often decorated in vibrant oranges and purples — to guide the spirits back to the world — and piled with ofrendas (offerings) such as candles, flowers, personal possessions, foods such as pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and drinks. Pictures of loved ones are also placed on the altar to honor and celebrate the lives they led and even call them back to their families for one day. Holding graveside vigils is also still common in many Mexican communities.