In 2008, UNESCO inscribed a major Mexican celebration, el Día de los Muertos, to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
“As practised by the indigenous communities of Mexico, el Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) commemorates the transitory return to Earth of deceased relatives and loved ones,” UNESCO states on its website. “The festivities take place each year at the end of October to the beginning of November. This period also marks the completion of the annual cycle of cultivation of maize, the country’s predominant food crop.”
As part of this event, celebrants often strew flower petals and place candles along a path from cemeteries to their homes.
“The deceased’s favourite dishes are prepared and placed around the home shrine and the tomb alongside flowers and typical handicrafts, such as paper cut-outs,” UNESCO adds. “Great care is taken with all aspects of the preparations, for it is believed that the dead are capable of bringing prosperity (e.g. an abundant maize harvest) or misfortune (e.g. illness, accidents, financial difficulties) upon their families depending on how satisfactorily the rituals are executed.”
Below, you can read about four significant Day of the Dead events taking place this weekend in Vancouver.
Latin Market Featuring Día de los Muertos
Granville Island will come alive with this Mexican tradition over two days. The fun begins at 1 pm. on Saturday (October 28) at 1500 Old Bridge Street. DJ Sanchez be the first act. Caro Silva, Mexico Vivo & Sangre Morena, Colectivo Yollotl, Orquesta Tabasko, and Mariachi Tabasko will also perform up until 11 p.m.
Meanwhile, on Sunday (October 29), the Día de los Muertos celebration continues from 1 to 10 p.m. Nadim Woolgar, Tchelo and the Chicos, Pies de Bronce Dancing Group, DJ CCX-YVR, Tritone Band, and Mariachi Los Dorados will perform at this free event.
“Do your best catrin or catrina costume and enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Latin America during this two-day family-friendly exhibition that features over 30 vendors, a marketplace, and live Latin music,” declares Latincouver on its website.
Día de los Muertos workshop
Both facilitators hail from Mexico at this Saturday (October 28) event at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. Tempo Dance and Visual Art director Carla Alcántara and dance artist and dance movement therapist Marco Esccer plan to encourage attendees “to engage in the art of crafting”. Together, they’ll create an Altar du Meurtos.
Moreover, attendees can bring photos or other mementos to honour deceased loved ones. The Consulate of Mexico supports this free event and pre-registration is required.
Parade of Lost Souls
The Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret will present its annual Parade of Lost Souls on Saturday (October 28). The Parade of Little Souls starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Britannia Library (1661 Napier Street). Adults will dress up for two later parades at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
The event includes various performances on the Britannia grounds. In addition, there will be a Lost Souls Afterparty from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Wise Hall (1882 Adanac Street). Patrons must be 19 years of age or older to attend.
Xochitl – Day of the Dead
The Nahualli Folklore Society will present a celebration at the Annex (823 Seymour Street) on Sunday (October 29), starting at 6 p.m. Inspired by petals of the Xochitl flower, the society will showcase Aztec and Mexican dance by Calpulli Cemanahuac Aztec Dance and Nuhalli, respectively. Widely admired Mexico City-born professional singer Chela Tumbao will also perform.
In addition, Colectivo Yollotl will present its Veracruz genre of folk music and dance and Canto Vivo will sing under the direction of its founder, Sérgio Pires. He’s a former professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Tickets are available on the Nahualli Folklore Society website.