Day of the Dead article
The crowd filled the room of the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento for the monthly Cultural Tuesday to celebrate the Day of the Dead. It was standing room only with people along the wall with artwork on display as the aroma of ceviche and fresh tortillas filled the air.
At the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento, people joined in celebration of the Day of the Dead Tuesday, Oct. 29 to experience an exhibition of Jose Guadalupe Posada’s artwork, a presentation on Posada’s history, dances performed by Grupo Folklórico Herúvi Kalo, traditional Mexican folk music, an altar display, and Nayarit food from Mariscos Las Islitas.
Consul General of Mexico in Sacramento Liliana Ferrer, alumnus of City College, helped put together the altar and hosted the event.
“As you know the Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico,” said Ferrer. “As we celebrate life, we also logically celebrate death as part of the cycle—the circle of life.”
Ferrer said the event was there to celebrate two people: Mexican illustrator, cartoonist and artist José Guadalupe Posada and Mexican contemporary painter Francisco Toledo.
City College librarian Antonio Lopez was part of the team that brought Posada’s collection, “Calaveras, Calaveritas y Calaverones,” to the Mexican Consulate. Lopez said that Posada (1852–1913) was an influential Mexican artist, but he was much more than just an artist. He was active in people’s worldview through his printmaking as well as writing.
“For me [Posada is] totally iconic. He’s representative of Day of the Dead,” said Lopez. “The Catrina image that he did was used in the movie ‘Coco’—he was mass media of his day.”
Lopez said that Posada was a people’s artist and that his work was used in everyday newspapers that helped to define the Mexican culture during that era.
“For me as a Chicano, I relate to him in a way that’s about my own identity,” said Lopez.
The Day of the Dead is celebrated in the United States from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, remembering the lives of people who have died.
“Every Day of the Dead, Mexicans, as you know, we place an altar of the dead,” said Ferrer. “We honor tradition, we honor culture and we honor our loved ones.”
One of the attendees, Karyme Oroczo Salazar, originally from Mexico, moved to the United States when she was 12 years old. She is currently a third-year UC Davis student and learned about the event through her Latin resource center at school.
“I like to celebrate the Day of the Death, but since we moved here, we don’t really celebrate it as a family,” said Salazar. “I would like to learn more about the altar, and someday when I have my own place, I want to have that tradition of creating my own altar on the Day of the Death teaching and passing that on to my children, too.”
According to Ferrer, the event also honored all the educational systems in California that help educate the Mexican community. Ferrer believes that educating ourselves about other cultures and traditions allows us to better understand and get along with each other.
“An integral part of our education is educating ourselves about others,” said Ferrer. “We should promote education through cultural events. Culture is a perfect bridging mechanism amongst people and there is no better way than promoting peace and friendship through culture.”
The event had traditional dances of the Nayarit by Grupo Folklórico Herúvi Kalo. One of the performers was 15-year-old Vanessa Hernandez, who has been dancing since she was 5 years old.
“Being able to dance [from] these types of regions like Veracruz no matter what region, it makes me feel proud of where I come from,” said Hernadez as music played in the background. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I come from Mexico,’ and especially for Day of the Dead since it’s such a big Mexican culture to celebrate.”
There were people in attendance who regularly celebrate this day and some who wanted to learn about it. Emma Turnbull, originally from Scotland, shows her 6-year-old daughter, Carmen Ruiz Turnbull, the sights of the room, wanting to pass on the traditions of her husband Juan Carlos Ruiz, who works in Economic and Political Attaché at the Consulate.
Ferrer wants to see the Mexican culture stay alive through events like the Day of the Dead celebration.
“This is the time where we welcome back the spirits and the souls of our loved ones and everything they represented and everything they loved,” said Ferrer.
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