CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Millions of people around the world will celebrate Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead, but locals are putting a Queen City spin on the traditions.
The Levine Museum of the New South and Latin American Coalition hosts the 19th annual Dia de Muertos Festival on Saturday, November 4 at Camp North End.
Organizers said the celebration will feature folkloric dancing, Mariachi music, and authentic Mexican food.
“It’s a tradition that comes from many, many years back. Back to the Aztec civilization, prehispanic Mexico,” said Sorayda Diaz with the Latin American Coalition. “We do this to remind us of our culture, our roots, and our celebrations that bring us together in the United States.”
The primary display at the festival is the collection of ofrendas. Ofrendas are altars families set up for their loved ones who have passed. They typically include photos of the family members with their favorite foods or beverages. Sometimes people will put items that belonged to the deceased next to the pictures.
The Levine Museum of the New South and the Latin American Coalition will include ofrendas from across the world, showing how places like Bolivia and the Philippines honor their family. Diaz said each region may have their unique tradition.
“On this day, we usually go to the cemetery, and we clean up the places of rest of our loved ones,” she said. “We bring the food with them and have like a picnic type of thing. We eat there, we tell stories about when they were alive. Again, this is like our way to keep them alive.”
Children are encouraged to attend. There will be a bilingual movie screening of Pixar’s “Coco” and an area for kids’ crafts. Diaz said it’s important to share the day with younger generations.
“Some kids that have grown up here, some of them maybe haven’t been to Mexico or their countries, and having these types of celebrations really connects them with that identity and their places of origin. It helps us get closer to the community,” Diaz said.
The festival is growing quickly. More than 5,000 people attended in 2022 and organizers expect more this year.
“I just really hope the people that come can learn something about the tradition and about the community that celebrates this holy day and this festival,” said Diaz “We are living here in Charlotte and we are bringing this to the city, to the country, to help people learn something they maybe did not know before.”
The event begins at noon and lasts until 8 p.m. It’s open to all at no charge.