Posted On 26.10.2020

Celebrating the Day of the Dead

We are pleased to partner with the Mexican Society of Edmonton to present the Altar De Muertos — the Day of the Dead altar display. Find this interactive display in the Chroma room, located on the main level across from H&M.

The Day of the Dead, or El Día de Muertos, is a 2-day long Mexican holiday, celebrated from November 1st to November 2nd, meant to honour deceased family members. Celebrations often include singing, dancing, and offering gifts to lost loved ones.

Here is a description of this tradition as told by Mariana, President of the Mexican Society of Edmonton:

“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. 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.

Families facilitate the return of the souls to Earth by laying flower petals, candles and offerings along the path leading from the cemetery 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. 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. The dead are divided into several categories according to cause of death, age, sex and, in some cases, profession. A specific day of worship, determined by these categories, is designated for each deceased person. This encounter between the living and the dead affirms the role of the individual within society and contributes to reinforcing the political and social status of Mexico’s indigenous communities.

The Day of the Dead celebration holds great significance in the life of Mexico’s indigenous communities. The fusion of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Catholic feasts brings together two universes, one marked by indigenous belief systems, the other by worldviews introduced by the Europeans in the sixteenth century.  In recent years the tradition was popularized by mainstream media and continues to evolve, today the Mexican Community of Edmonton in partnership with Kingsway Mall, is proud to host this communal altar as an opportunity for all Edmontonians to honour their loved ones the MexiCan way.”

The centrepiece of the celebration is the altar or ofrenda. The altars are dressed with a brightly coloured table cloth and offerings to the dead — most commonly food, flowers, incense, family photos, and a candle for each deceased person celebrated. Deceased children are also offered toys and candy, while adults are offered alcohol and cigarettes.

You’ll find that the altars are scattered with Marigolds as Mexicans believe that this flower helps guide their loved one’s soul back to the living world. A glass of water is also commonly placed to quench the thirst of the dead after a long journey to the altar.

Despite its name, to those that celebrate The Day of the Dead, it is a commemoration of life. We hope that you get a chance to see this beautiful installation in person. If you stop by, make sure to tag us at @kingswaymall for a chance to win a $100 Kingsway Mall gift card.

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