SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Originating in Mexico but celebrated worldwide, the Day of the Dead — also known as Día de los Muertos — is coming up fast this fall season. But what do we know of the cherished holiday? Here’s a very brief overview.
How it’s celebrated
Día de los Muertos — sometimes referred to as Día de Muertos — is recognized each year from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, bringing families together to honor their deceased loved ones with festive food, drink and celebration.
As part of the tradition, it’s believed that the spirits of those who’ve passed are welcomed back for a night as they return to the world of the living.
Families also pay tribute to their deceased loved ones by leaving their favorite foods and other offerings at gravesites or at “ofrendas” placed in their homes, which are altars adorned with sugar skulls, candles, marigold flowers, pictures, and pan de muertos — a traditional Mexican sweet bread baked during Día de los Muertos.
In Mexico and other communities across the globe, families will also recognize their deceased with grand festivals, parties, and parades hosted around town and in the streets.
Where it originated
Some researchers say the origins of the holiday can be traced back thousands of years to the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs, they say, honored their dead in various fall festivals and believed that death was a transitory phase where the souls of the dead could visit the world of the living.
When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, those traditions were integrated into the Catholic calendar. Both cultures are represented in recognizing death as a fundamental part of life and make use of ritualistic altars (ofrendas) to honor the dead.
While the holiday has changed slightly over the centuries, one aspect that has remained is the use of calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons) as symbols for Day of the Dead celebrations.
Where to observe in Utah
Many Utah families will be honoring the Día de los Muertos holiday in their own regards, but there will also be several community events held around the state during the fall season.
Some of the local events to look forward to this year include:
Día de los Muertos Utah | Oct. 28, 2023 | Ogden Union Station, Ogden
Día de los Muertos by West Valley Arts | Oct. 28, 2023 | Utah Cultural Celebration Center, West Valley City
Día de los Muertos – International Market | Oct. 28, 2023 | Utah State Fairpark & Event Center, Salt Lake City
2023 Día de los Muertos Celebration | Nov. 1, 2023 | BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Provo
Day of the Dead Celebration | Nov. 2, 2023 | Tyler Library, Midvale
Día de los Muertos: Honoring Our Ancestors | Nov. 4, 2023 | Southern Utah Museum of Art, Cedar City
4th Annual Day of the Dead Exhibition | Sep. 16 – Nov. 25, 2023 | St. George Art Museum, St. George
This list will be updated as more information becomes available