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Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead: Guide
What is Día de los Muertos?
Celebrations begin with the cleaning of the graves and the construction of the ofrenda, or altar. At home this consists of a table or platform hung from the ceiling, covered with a white cloth and supporting an arch of palm fronds. The ofrenda are decorated with flowers, particularly the cempasúchil (marigold), the "flower of the dead," as well as the magenta-colored cockscomb, a white gypsophila, gladioli, and carnations. The same flowers are also used to decorate tombs, and the sweet smell of copal, the Native American incense, is ubiquitous. Other altar decorations include images of the deceased as well as papeles picados, colored paper with cutout designs.Continue . . .
Hybridity and Authenticity in US Day of the Dead CelebrationsIn the 1970s, secular Day of the Dead celebrations were initiated in the United States as a way to communicate messages of Chicano identity. As the US Latino community became more ethnically diverse in the 1980s and 1990s, new Latino populations participated in these public festivities, creating pan-Latino celebrations. At the same time, non-Latinos began to embrace Day of the Dead as an alternative way to remember the departed. The observance of the holiday in new ways and by new groups of people has sparked negotiations around ownership and meaning, illustrating that hybridity and authenticity are complexly related rather than oppositional concepts.
Day of the DeadLearn about Oaxaca's pre-Hispanic holiday when souls of family members visit the living. Jim and Mags buy decorations to make a home altar; hear symbolic elements of marigolds and incense.
Day of the Dead SymbolismSkulls demonstrate respect for the dead. Aztecs believed in cyclical life, rather than finality—explaining ancient and modern Mexican attitudes towards death. A BBC Production.
Days of the Dead: A Living TraditionWith the arrival of the conquistadors, many ancient Mesoamerican rituals were absorbed into Christian holidays. This program examines a collection of sacred, social, and artistic traditions that survived European assimilation and now compose one of Mexico’s most important annual festivals. The film follows the travels and experiences of a young Purépecha artisan, her grandmother, and their family during the weeks leading up to the Days of the Dead. As these struggling craftspeople market their wares, study new techniques, and prepare for their deceased patriarch’s spiritual return, viewers will see a wide variety of folk art practices—from pottery painting to flower decoration to papier-mâché skeleton sculpture—coalesce into a momentous cultural event. (53 minutes)
Mexico: Rendezvous with the DeadIn this program, we head to Michoacán, one of the most picturesque regions of Mexico, where we immerse ourselves in the festivities of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Agricultural activities, rituals, displays of skills, culinary traditions all teach us about the ancient customs attached to this important ritual.
Mexico: Day of the Dead - My AmericasIn “My Americas,” Mexican American hosts Roberto Alcaraz and Leticia Vásquez travel into the rich cultural and spiritual life of Latin America in search of their heritage. In this program, Roberto travels to Oaxaca to discover one of Mexico’s most defining and colorful feasts, celebrated every year on November 2nd. His search takes him from markets to the pre-Columbian ruins of Monte Albán and Mitla, an ornate Dominican church, and to the home of a Zapotec family of rug weavers. He learns about the family’s art, their daily struggles, their traditions, and the importance of Day of the Dead in their life. Roberto ends his adventure with a midnight stroll in a candlelit cemetery where families remember their deceased loved ones.
Festivals: Day of the Dead, MexicoFestivals of life nourish us with ancient rituals in a fast-changing world, covering all facets of the human condition, the changing seasons, weddings, coming of age ceremonies, births and deaths, the worship of gods and the battle against evil spirits. This film showcases Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations that unite the living and the dead in feasting, dancing and decoration. In Oaxaca City, local artists create sand tapestries and enter an altar competition. Families gather at the public cemetery to clean the graves of loved ones and make offerings. In Etla, muerteadas, or street parades, last all night as rival bands engage in mock battles. Join a local family for a traditional lunch of chicken and mole, and learn about Aztec and Spanish religious customs that blended to form today’s Día de los Muertos festival of remembrance.
Jose Guadalupe PosadaPosada, a witness to the Porfiriate and the Revolution, was one of the great explorers of the spirit of Mexico. The satire and tragedy of Mexican life and death were his subjects; his insights and artistic vision rank this precursor of Mexican muralism among the foremost of Mexican artists. In Spanish. (56 minutes)
Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead | Artbound | Season 10, Episode 3 | KCETDía de los Muertos has been adapted for centuries from its pre-colonial roots to the popular depictions in mass media today. Inspired by rich Oaxacan traditions, it was brought to East Los Angeles in the 1970’s as a way to enrich and reclaim Chicano identity through a small celebration at Self Help Graphics and Art. Since then, the celebration has grown in proportions with renditions enacted in communities all around the world. In contrast to all the glamorous fanfare Dia de los Muertos now receives, Artbound offers a more intimate look at this ritual through the story of artist Ofelia Esparza, who continues the tradition of building altars to remember the dead. Journey with her as she travels back to Mexico in search of her ancestral roots.
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