Day of the Dead / Día de los Muertos

By Bryan Garcia (he/him/his)

It’s evening time. I walk into a room with a table that has been transformed into an altar and what do I see? I see a space where the living and the dead can connect and offer love to one another and it reminds me how it is never too late to do this with a loved one. I notice spirits dancing and transcending over the limits society tries to oppress us with because we are able to welcome our departed “lost but never forgotten” back into our lives for a brief moment to reflect on the love and memories we shared.  My eyes stare at the flickering “veladoras” radiating a gentle warmth and my nose breathes in the rich aroma of the “abuelita” chocolate that was just prepared. My mouth waters as I gaze onto a basket of “pan de muerto” and I can almost taste it’s orange blossom flavor.  I am grateful for opportunities like these where we can come together and express our appreciation for our loved ones and ancestors as they guide us through the challenging, joyful, and healing times.   

Who I Honor

I want to honor my father Armando, who has been gone for a little over 12 years and would be 82 today. A Mexican immigrant from Loreto, Zacatecas who came to the United States as a migrant farm worker. They are the reason I am a morning person and why I can admire the scent of a freshly manicured lawn and smokey fires. Why I love animals, particularly horses, goats, chickens and puppies. The reason I love lemon iced tea and driving down long and winding country roads. 

My grandparents, Atanacia, Carmelita, Jacobo, and Jose. 

My friends Josh and Megan who were taken too soon.

All our queer ancestors of color who have passed on throughout the years, but whose vibrant lives paint a beautiful and powerful history for us to uplift and pass down to future generations.  

Who do you honor or remember on this day? What do you want to say to them?

Ofrenda

So the “ofrenda” or altar is the main event and star of the show. An all-you-can-eat for the souls of you and your loved ones. Some of the items you will usually find are:

-The flame from a candle or veladora will guide our loved ones on their path and fill the room with light, faith and hope. We can further help their spirits find their way using cardinal directions when we line up 4 or more in the shape of a cross.

-A photo of the person whom the altar is dedicated to. This can be a family member, friend or loved one that has transitioned to the next world or an ancestor you may have never met, but want to connect with. 

-Marigolds, or cempasuchil or bold yellow and orange flowers of the dead/flor de muerto. Their fragrant perfume helps lead our departed loved ones back to the altar on this day to visit us. Pulling out the petals makes the scent even stronger and their freshness reminds us that life must be enjoyed while we still have it. You can dedicate a flower to your loved one as well. 

-Things the person enjoyed during their life: Tequila, a favorite dish, some baseball cards, their stamp collection, a hair pin or brooch, book, etc. It can also be something that reminds you of them and helps you feel connected to them. Don’t forget some candy, wine, and loteria for fun of all ages!

Pan de Muerto – the top represents a skull, the orange blossom flavor honors the dead, you can also see the bones of the dead and shedding of tears, and the circular form represents the cycle of life and death. 

-A bowl of fruit  for our loved ones to consume the scents and essence of..

-A glass, mug or cup with water representing the source of life and quenching the thirst of our loved ones. 

-Sugar skulls to represent a departed soul with their name written on the forehead and placed on the altar ofrenda to honor their return. They are usually made of alfeñique, which is a mixture of sugar, hot water, and lemon

A cross can represent the love and the sacrifices our loved ones and ancestors have made for us. 

What would you place on your altar? What is the meaning behind it?

Celebrate with allgo!

If you have never experienced or celebrated Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead or you already know you love it, we invite you to do so with us! Join allgo for a hybrid in-person and virtual tour of allgo’s “ofrenda” or community altar and in honor of Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead. Welcome our departed loved ones back into our lives for a brief moment to reflect on their love and shared memories. Grab your “pan de muerto” and “abuelita” hot chocolate and gather around the warmth and light of an altar “veladora.” 

With performances by:

Diana Alvarez

Mar Padilla

KB 

allgo’s annual  Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead will take place on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021 from 6:30 PM to 8 PM CST in the Community Courtyard at allgo (701 Tillery St, Austin, TX 78702) as well as live-streamed online for those who are not able to attend in-person.

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