Although the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead on Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, sounds a lot like a terrifying AMC television series, it’s really a celebration of life and eternal relationships. Don’t even confuse it with the heavily monetized American Halloween.
Here’s the Dia de los Muertos deal: You try to lure your dead beloved back to join family and friends in eating, drinking, laughing and loving. In short, Dia de los Muertos is a party that bridges the gap between the living and dead.
To get deceased relatives to join the festivities, living folks build altars covered with fragrant marigolds, notes written to the dead and mementos of the little things the dead loved most—a bottle of Coke, a Snickers bar or a favorite mezcal. In short order, memories are gushing out over meals of hearty food and pan de Muerto (bread of the dead). The dead will soon show up and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a dance with that party animal La Catrina, the grand dame of death.
It goes without saying Dia de los Muertos is a great way to work through grief, in fact, Utah’s The Sharing Place has adopted the holiday.
The Utah Cultural Celebration Center, in Utah’s most diverse city, presents the state’s best Dia de los Muertos. The community gathers for Mexican music and dance, traditional food, a beer garden and hands-on activities for the kids. Visitors will get to view art related to the holiday. Prizes will be offered in a Catrina dress-up contest!
The celebration is Oct. 28, but the exhibits will be on display until Nov. 3. Admission is $5 for adults. Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South, WVC
If you’re in Utah County the closest Dia de los Muertos mass celebration is at Thanksgiving Point. T-Point’s Show Barn will be filled with the sights and sounds of holiday, including the spectacularly decorated calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls) dressed to the nines, of course. Latin dancers will perform along with mariachi bands, singers and storytellers.
Oct. 28 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Adults: $8 in advance, $10 day-of
If crowds aren’t your thing, an excellent way to make the acquaintance of Day of the Dead is at Alamexo Mexican Kitchen downtown or at Alamexo Cantina at 9th and 9th. Specials will run Wednesday, Nov. 1 and Thursday, Nov. 2. At the downtown location (268 S. State) you can dig into borrego con mole negro, featuring a braised leg of lamb in a traditional mole negro and a dessert pan de muerto with candied pumpkin.
At the 9th and 9th Cantina (1059 E. 900 South), try a mollete made with house made Mexican bread, spicy black beans, Oaxaca cheese, chorizo, and pico de gallo.
Jorge Fierro, owner of Rico Foods, has used the holiday annually to raise money for the needy. This year he held a celebration to raise money for Mexican earthquake relief. So it seems only fair that you might want to base your celebration at the west side’s Frida Bistro, 545 W. 700 South, SLC, where you will enjoy sophisticated Mexico City cuisine surrounded with fantastic Mexican art.