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How St. Louisans Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos, The Day Of The Dead

From left, Maria Yaksic and Elisa Bender joined Monday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up in Mexico, Lizett Mata spent a lot of time in early November each year at her father’s grave. He died when she was just 7 years old, and Mata and her family would annually bring some of his favorite things to the cemetery to celebrate his and other departed loved ones’ lives. They’d spend the whole day there.

It was a solemn time. Even so, Mata associates those early Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, traditions with life, love and celebration — not with death.

“It’s a way that we can really celebrate the memory of others and that we can really truly keep them in our hearts and in our minds,” Mata told St. Louis on the Air as she looked toward this year’s celebration in St. Louis, where she’s lived for more than a decade.

She’s become deeply involved in a local observance of the Latin American holiday at the Missouri History Museum, which is partnering with Hispanic Festival Inc. next weekend for a two-day extravaganza. Mata spearheads a dance group that will be performing as part of the festivities.

On Monday’s show, host Sarah Fenske talked with one of the organizers, Elisa Bender, as well as another member of the St. Louis Latino community, Maria Yaksic, who is also involved. They previewed the history museum celebration and shared some of their personal Dia de los Muertos memories and traditions.

Take a listen:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.