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Mexic-Arte Museum’s Dia de los Muertos Procession

Candy, witches, bats, pumpkins, altars, marigolds, and most importantly people in the streets in costume—October is the best damn month of the year!

Being a lover of Latin American traditions, I get excited about Día de los Muertos. While Día de los Muertos actually takes place in November, altars and calaveras abound during October here in Austin. For those not familiar with the holiday, Día de los Muertos is a celebration of the life and death of loved ones.  Traditionally, altars are built with each of the four elements – earth, wind, fire, and water – as well as favorite items of the person(s) being honored.  Candles are lit for fire and marigolds, fresh or paper creations, represent earth.  It’s common for beverages such as beer or tequila to make their way into the ofrendaI, which represent water. Papel picado, cut paper, of various patterns is strung up around the altar to represent wind.

October 22nd marked the 28th annual Día de los Muertos festival at Mexic -Arte Museum. Part of 5th street was blocked off for the event which is free for all to attend.  And, new murals were added to the side of the museum and a stage was set up with Mexican folk dancers and music performances.

Overall, forty vendors helped make this year’s festival a great success. Cedar Stevens of Natural Magick Shop had hand crafted potions, incense and essential oils. Stevens is a passionate witch, “potion-eer”, and herbalist.  She creates everything according to the moon phases.

Typical costumes on the day of the procession

Decorated sugar skulls are a ubiquitous sight during day of the dead celebrations. Sugar Pop Sweet Shop set up a booth and sold various skull confections from actual sugar skulls to calavera cookies. For those that wanted to transform into skulls themselves, the opportunity was available and many patrons took advantage.  The skills of On the Spot Body Art were incredible. Monica Sifuentes, who sells wares under the pseudonym Professora Calavera, had skull linocut prints on notebooks and cards for sale as well as earrings and sacred heart light switch plates.

The annual event ends with a grand procession, and participants are encouraged to download a costume pattern from the museum’s website.  This year’s theme was the Mexican free-tail bat.

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