The Day of the Dead comes to Midtown Global Market

grid-cell-25595-1383231891-13BY ED FELIEN

The Day of the Dead celebration will be all week long at the Midtown Global Market, from Saturday, Oct. 25, through Halloween on Oct. 31.
On Saturday from noon to 3 p.m., there’ll be music, food sampling and crafts for the kids.
On Wednesday, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the Wee Wednesday regular programming will be given over to Dia de los Muertos. There’ll be crafts and music by Aric Bieganek, the Early Childhood Music instructor at MacPhail School of Music.
Friday is Halloween, and there will be trick or treating at selected vendors from 4 to 6 p.m.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an ancient Latin festival going back thousands of years. All of our ancestors—Latin, European or African—had festivals to celebrate the dead. The ancient Celts celebrated Samhein, probably the name and custom that comes down to us as Halloween. The carved pumpkin represented the skull of the dead.  We are all familiar with the ancient celebrations of Winter Solstice, around Dec. 21  (the darkest night of the year), becoming Christmas and New Year’s when the days start to get longer. And we know that three months later is the first day of spring, and another three months is the first day of summer and three months after that the first day of fall. These four points on the calendar are like a square within the circle of 365 days. But there is another square as well within that circle.  Midway between the Winter Solstice and the first day of spring there is Groundhog’s Day—which was an attempt by the Christian church to diminish the ancient pagan holiday celebrating the return of Persephone from the Underworld. Midway between the first day of spring and the first day of summer is May Day, when ancient people stopped work to celebrate the return of nature. Midway between the first day of summer and the first day of autumn is the enhanced-buzz-25808-1383240801-20Christian holiday celebrating the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven, which was probably meant to obscure the ancient pagan celebration of Persephone (after spending the summer with her mother, Demeter, and helping with the harvest) returning to the underworld to join her lover, Hades. And midway between the first day of autumn and the first day of winter is Halloween, the day when the dead walk upon the earth, and the spirit world is close enough to touch, and little goblins come tapping at your door asking for treats.
The Mexican tradition borrows heavily from Aztec mythology. The Queen of the Dead, Mictian, rules the afterlife with her husband—very similar to Persephone and Hades.  She watches over the bones of the dead and presides over the festivals.
People go to cemeteries to welcome the spirits of the dead and remember them. In Mexico, the orange marigold is the favorite flower to honor the graves. Toys are brought for the children who have died and bottles of tequila for the adults.
It is a remembrance of the dead, but it is a happy and hopeful time as well. And a reminder that life is short and we are all mortal.
On Saturday, Nov. 1, the Midtown Market changes gears and they celebrate an Asian Indian holiday: Dewali—The Festival of Light. There will be Bollywood dancing, henna and Indian crafts for the children.


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  1. Pingback: One Stop Dia de los Muertos Shop « La Experiencia Mexicana

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