© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Day of the Dead celebrates lives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 30, 2008 - “El Dia de los Muertos,” or Day of the Dead will be celebrated this weekend among the area's Mexican and Hispanic communities. The holiday may not be as well known as Cinco de Mayo, but it is gradually becoming more prominent.

On Nov. 1 each year, people commemorate family members and friends who have died. They build altars that include photos of the deceased, hold parades and religious ceremonies and produce distinctive crafts and baked goods.

The day has its roots in Pre-Colombian festivals, combined with the Catholic All Saints Day. The largest celebration is being held on Cherokee Street, the heart of the Metro West’s Hispanic community. On Saturday and Sunday, you'll find sugar skulls, altars and food tasting.

Minerva Lopez of El Centro Cultural de Mexico has been busy this past month demonstrating traditional Day of the Dead crafts.

The sugar skulls and skeletal figures common to the event, she said, go hand in hand with the Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) that honors those who have died. The food and altars erected also evoke joy and trigger in the living enjoyment of memories of the dead.

Lopez said that the celebration of the holiday by the district at large pointed to its unity and diversity. She said the holiday was “not a somber time,” but rather a chance to be happy and honor life.

“It’s to remember how fragile life is,” Lopez said. “To us, it is a way to honor people who have passed on. We think that, at the same time, we celebrate that we are alive.”

The Cherokee Street event is sponsored by the Cherokee Station Business Association and hosted by El Centro Cultural de Mexico.

Carpenter Public Library on South Grand held a Day of the Dead celebration Oct. 29, which featured traditional crafts and storytelling for children. It’s an annual occurrence at the library.

Carpenter’s Metro East counterpart, the Fairmount City Public Library plans to host an event next year. About half of Fairmount City’s population is Hispanic and the library holds the largest collection of Spanish materials in the Metro East. Staff said they want to coordinate the event with others held in the area.

Day of the Dead Festival

When: 1-10 p.m., Nov. 1-2

Where: Cherokee Street and the surrounding neighborhoods.

What: Altar building, art exhibits, crafts and more.

More information: www.ddmstl.com , http://cherokeestreetnews.org/

What: Dia de Los Muertos Ball Dance

When: Sat., Nov. 1 – 9 p.m.
Where: Belas Artes Multicultural Center and Art Gallery, 1854 Russell Blvd. Cost: $10
Info: 314-772-2787 

Amelia Flood is a freelance writer.