“This is a great way to unite the Latino cultures. The focus is not just on the Mexican culture, but goes across many cultures and goes back thousands of years,” said Rebecca Martínez , SQACC executive director. “We focus too much on what divides us and this is a great way to unite everyone and celebrate.”
Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them to symbolize death and rebirth. The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other civilizations believed came back to visit during the month-long ritual.
Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, native cultures viewed death as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they celebrated it. To Aztecs, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.
Today, Día de los Muertos coincides with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Nov. 1 and 2. Families who celebrate the holiday construct altars in memory of a loved one, usually with items on display that belonged to or held significance in the life of that loved one.
There will be at least a dozen Día de los Muertos altar displays, many of them by families honoring lost loved ones. One such display is being put together by the Martínez family, which has participated in all 18 SQACC events. Other displays were put together by student groups, including Genoa High School and Queen of Apostles School. The altars will be housed across the street at La Galeria de las Américas, 1224 Broadway. Co-chairs for the event this year are longtime SQACC supporters Arturo Quintero and Doris López.
“There are many people who work so hard in the background to keep this alive—and the displays are just so beautiful,” said Ms. Martínez. “There is a lot of quiet dedication to keep this tradition going.”
Advance tickets are $40 for one, two for $75 and $45 at the door and $85 for two at the door. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the festivities will run until 10 p.m. $30 of each ticket is a tax-deductible contribution to the non-profit organization. A traditional Mexican dinner is to be served will be served and there will be musical entertainment following the dinner.
Events featuring the altars are free and open to the public, starting with a blessing ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, at SQACC, to be followed by a procession to SS. Peter & Paul, 728 S. St. Clair St., for a special Mass honoring loved ones and a social time with a pan dulce y chocolate (sweet bread and hot cocoa) reception.
The altar exhibit will also be open to the public from Mon., Nov. 3 through Fri., Nov. 14, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. School groups and the general public who are interested in viewing the altars are asked to contact Cathy at 567-343-8671 to reserve a time.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center at 419-241-1655. Due to space limitations, the dinner/dance will be limited to the first 175 people who purchase or reserve tickets.