Día de los Muertos: Celebrating lost loved ones with centuries-old traditions

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Halloween is over and it’s time for Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is traditionally celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2.

The holiday is known for sugar skulls and parades but it’s a rich, centuries-old Mexican tradition. It’s a day to remember and honor loved ones who have died, but with celebrations and not all sorrow.

Papel picado and calaveras adorn traditional ofrendas that are colorful and, at times, elaborate altars meant to celebrate the lives of those who are no longer with us.

“It reconnects people to their culture and their past and it’s a wonderful way to honor those who have passed and remember them for generations,” said Kent Swanson, public art project coordinator for Bernalillo County.

Altars also have items the person liked, such as their favorite food, drinks or even personal belongings.

You also can’t forget about la flor de cempasúchil, or marigolds, the traditional bright-orange flower on altars that is said to be a bridge leading souls from their burial place to their families.

At the Gutierrez-Hubbell House History & Cultural Center, ofrendas appear in every corner as a part of the Ofrendas Comunitarias Exhibit.

“Different organizations have come and created offerings, Day of the Dead ofrendas or altars and commemorating people who have passed or members of their community,” Swanson said.

The Ofrendas Comunitarias Exhibit will be open until Nov. 12 at the Gutierrez-Hubbell House History & Cultural Center, 6029 Isleta Blvd SW, in Albuquerque. It’s open Thursday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.