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Celebrating Day of the Dead | Connecticut Historical Society prepares for Dia de los Muertos community celebration

Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican tradition celebrated November 1-2 to remember loved ones and celebrate death.

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Historical Society is gearing up for its annual Dia de los Muertos celebration, with an emphasis on celebrating and educating.

Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican tradition celebrated on November 1-2.

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Carlos Hernandez Chavez said the purpose is to remember loved ones and celebrate death instead of fearing it.

"It's not a dark interpretation or a dark exchange with death, and that's the beauty of it," Hernandez Chavez said.

During Day of the Dead, he said, families encourage dearly departed spirits to visit by creating their interpretation of an 'ofrenda' or altar. They're typically decorated with colorful paper cutouts (papel picado), water, candles, salt and other sentimental elements.

"As long as there are elements of the altar like the flowers, which are absolutely essential, photographs of the departed, and sugar skulls," Hernandez Chavez explained to FOX61.

Hernandez Chavez said while it's meant to be a joyful and beautiful experience, people often associate it with Halloween. However, he stressed that it has nothing to do with Halloween, and everything to do with celebrating life.

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That is why he partnered with the Connecticut Historical Society to host a free Dia de los Muertos celebration. 

"People can come to appreciate and respect a culture that might be different from their own, and if it is part of their cultural heritage, then they can feel welcomed and celebrated," Kate Schramm, Director of Connecticut's Cultural Arts Programs said.

She said Mexican and Mexican-Americans are Connecticut's second-largest Spanish-speaking population, so celebrating together is a way to learn from each other. 

"This is an opportunity for people to come out and familiarize themselves with this significant cultural tradition and also to meet their neighbors," Schramm added.

Connecticut Historical Society's Dia de los Muertos celebration will be on Saturday, October 30, from 10 a.m. 5 p.m. It's free and open to the public.

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Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.comFollow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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