Nebraskans from all walks of life came together to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, at the Nebraska History Museum on Oct. 24.
Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday where people remember and honor their loved ones who have died and welcome their souls back for a brief reunion with their family. It is celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
“It’s to remember the people who we have lost, especially after this last year and a half where a lot of people have lost their lives to COVID-19,” said Lindsey Clausen, chair of the committee for the Dia de los Muertos event.
Clausen said the celebration is important for the Lincoln community because it not only connects people to Mexican culture but also normalizes the discussion surrounding death.
“In the United States, a lot of people are kind of afraid of death and don’t like to talk about it,” Clausen said. “It’s sort of a natural part of life that we have to think about. Developing an understanding of Dia de los Muertos is a space to address that in our lives.”
The decision for local organizations to host the Dia de los Muertos event two weeks early was intentional.
“The only Sunday that was super close is Halloween. Part of the reason we do this event is to teach people about Dia de los Muertos because a lot of people just assume it’s Halloween,” Clausen said.
The committee did not want people to associate Dia de los Muertos with Halloween.
Caitlin Lombardo, program coordinator and librarian of Bennett Martin Library, created an ofrenda, meaning altar, on the first floor of the library to educate the public about the Mexican celebration.
“It helps people outside [the Mexican] community to understand that it’s not a morbid thing or a scary thing,” Lombardo said. “They’re celebrating the return of loved family members.”
Lombardo wanted people to know that Dia de los Muertos is a “very welcoming and warm holiday.”
Heavy rain had forced the organizers of the event to move all the booths and activities indoors.
Mariachi Zapata, a Mexica band from Omaha, and dancers from Proyecto Cultural, a nonprofit organization based in Lincoln that aims to uplift Hispanic culture, kept participants entertained with their cultural songs and dances.
Hear Mariachi Zapata performs its opening song:
Several local organizations have partnered together to bring this event to life since 2015. They are Nebraska History Museum, Downtown Lincoln Association, El Centro de las Americas, Lincoln Children’s Museum, Lincoln City Libraries, Lincoln Commission on Human Rights, Lux Center for the Arts, Mourning Hope Grief Center, Nebraska Folklife, Nebraska Latino American Commission, and UNL Mexican American Student Association.
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