A pair of cultural traditions will be celebrated this week at Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads with a fall festival to commemorate both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.
Retailers will pass out candy to trick-or-treaters from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the mall, 7000 Crossroads Blvd. A costume contest will begin at 7:15 p.m., with winners to be selected in three age groups.
Oklahoma City Public Schools will figure prominently in the festivities with a student art exhibit and student performances from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, has its origins in both Aztec tradition and the Catholic observance of All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Although most strongly identified with Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Latin America and everywhere with a Hispanic population, including Oklahoma City.
Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties and activities they enjoyed in life. Tradition holds that the dead would be offended by grieving and sadness, so festivities honor them with laughter and joy.
“It's colorful and happy; there's nothing morbid about it,” said Sarah Carnes, a Fillmore Elementary art teacher.
Fillmore sixth-grader Daniela Mendoza, 13, has been celebrating her uncle's passing since she was in the second grade. Mendoza's portrait of a skull, complete with a jewel stone for a nose, is among the art work on display inside the mall.
“I tell my friends that when people die you celebrate the Day of the Dead,” she said.
Julienne Carnes, 7, a Fillmore second-grader, crafted a papier-mache mask complete with feathers and beads.
“I want to be an artist like my mom,” she said.
Although trick-or-treating has become more common on Dia de los Muertos, the holiday actually has nothing to do with Halloween, which is a Northern European tradition.
“Dia de los Muertos is about welcoming spirits of ancestors and family members; it's the one day you can build a shrine to a family member or cook their favorite food,” said Robert Ruiz, Plaza Mayor's marketing manager.
For more information, call 631-4422.