Día de los Muertos

Latino communities throughout the world celebrate Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, at the end of October and during the first two days of November. A time of joy, not sorrow, Día de los Muertos commemorates the lives of loved ones who have passed away through a variety of traditions, many of which are pre-Hispanic in origin.

Since its establishment in 2004, the Program in Latino History and Culture has hosted many Día de los Muertos celebrations. Blog posts were written about the event in 2008 and 2010.


Highlights from 2009’s Día de los Muertos celebration included presenting author and Day of the Dead expert Mary Andrade, who has written numerous books on Día de los Muertos celebrations throughout Mexico.


The National Museum of American History celebrated Día de los Muertos in partnernship with the National Museum of the American Indian in 2008. Festival highlights included a traditional ofrenda or altar, cooking demonstrations and crafts for families.


The 2007 celebration featured an original ofrenda made by San Francisco Bay artist Yolanda Garfias Woo, crafts led by papel picado (elaborate paper tissue designs) artist Tlisza Jaurique and performances by the dance troupe Los Quetzales. The festival was held at the National Museum of the American Indian.


The National Museum of American History and the National Museum of the American Indian celebrated Día de los Muertos with a two-day festival that included hands-on activities and art projects, music, dance performances, poetry reading, and films. A special ofrenda created by Mexican artist Tlisza Jaurique was a central feature of the festival.


Highlights from 2004’s celebration include artist Horacio Quintanilla’s original ofrenda, the dramatic readings of poet Quique Aviles, performances by Los Quetzales, a Mexican folkloric dance troupe, and musical entertainment from Mariachi Los Amigos, who performed throughout the museum. Hands-on activities included the making of an ofrenda, marigold flowers, skull masks, and recuerdos (memory boxes).