Celebrations for El Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, are underway in Springfield. Despite the pandemic, organizers have found a way to continue honoring loved ones who’ve passed at a distance.
Last year's events attracted hundreds of people that included live music, in-person events, and crafts. But this time around Springfield Librarian and Latino Liaison Kristen Curé said they had to pivot to follow pandemic protocals.
“This year it felt more important than ever to be able to host a community celebration that would honor these cultural traditions and bring people together in a safe way,” said Curé.
Events this year included the offering of free virtual workshops, and free kits to make ofrendas or altars at home. There’s also a competition where people can submit photos of their altars for prizes. The last day to enter is Nov. 4.
The holiday, which falls on Nov. 2, is observed as a combination of Native Indigenous traditions along with some Catholic traditions Curé said.
“It’s rooted in Indigenous traditions of pre-colombian mesoamerica, so that extends from Mexico all the through central-America, Nicaragua and Costa Rica,” Curé added.
These traditions celebrate the circle of life, she said, and to show that death isn’t to be feared.
“It’s really a way to celebrate and honor all of those in our lives who’ve passed and really give gratitude for the presence they’ve had in our lives,” Curé said.
Celebrations can include processions, dances, and folk crafts. Some people will visit cemeteries to clean graves, bring fresh flowers, and make displays to remember their loved ones, said Curé.
In lieu of a similar display seen last year, the public can view and honor their loved ones at a Community Ofrenda viewable from outside the Springfield Museum. Contributions from the public will be accepted until Oct. 30.
”With the context that we’re living now, more than ever it feels important to celebrate and honor those in our community who’ve passed and who we appreciate in the present moment,” Curé said.
A socially distant processession is scheduled for Nov. 2 at 4 pm outside Springfield City Hall. Masks are required.
Make-your-own altar kits can be picked up at the library and participating businesses during select hours.
In addition to the Community Ofrenda outside the musuem, the public can take a self-guided tour of several businesses in Springfield that are displaying ofrendas of their own.
More information on kit pick up times and other events can be found here.
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