Hispanic Advisory Committee hosts first community Dia de los Muertos

Families filled the Winters Cemetery on Friday, Nov. 2 for the first Dia de los Muertos community celebration in Winters, hosted by the Hispanic Advisory Committee (HAC).
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Photo by Rosemary Hemenway

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Families filled the Winters Cemetery on Friday, Nov. 2 for the first Dia de los Muertos community celebration in Winters, hosted by the Hispanic Advisory Committee (HAC). This is the first year that the HAC has hosted a Dia de los Muertos event at the cemetery. They had a quick turn around between the Festival de la Communidad in October and Dia de los Muertos in November, but they were committed to starting the tradition this year. Jesse Loren, HAC member, says that the long hours they put in have paid off. “We’re just very moved that there’s so many families here,” Loren said. As the evening continued families gathered throughout the cemetery. People listened to the mariachi band and snacked on traditional pastries and homemade Mexican hot chocolate. Others brought chairs, blankets and food to the headstones of departed loved ones. “You can’t plan for somber,” Loren said when asked about the event, “but you can plan for joy.” “Life is full of joy, but part of the joy is that it is fleeting,” she added. Dirci Altamiran used her altar to celebrate the things that brought her family members joy. Her ofrenda was covered with photographs and mementos from her family and her husband’s. There was space for a few beloved family pets as well. “This is a nice day to be able to remember family, Altamiran said. “We are the way we are because of them.” A young woman came over with a small bag of pastries to places on Altamiran’s alter. Altamiran believes that teaching the younger generations about their ancestors is an important aspect of Dia de los Muertos. She says that they shouldn’t just learn that their relatives are dead, they need to know how they lived. Part of that education comes from the ofrendas. Altamiran says that it’s important for children to see what their relatives enjoyed in life. For her mother, Altarmiran makes a salad or brings figs to place near her photograph. This year, she brought the last pair of glasses her mother ever wore. In the past Altamiran built her alter at the Dia de los Muertos event in Sacramento. This year she was happy to stay in Winters. “It’s nice,” she said of the event, “I hope they continue.” Letitcia Prado, who was there with her family, is also excited about the event. “Having lived here all my life, this is great,” Prado said, holding her young grandson on her hip. Previously Prado’s family had observed the holiday at home. This year she was happy to celebrate with the community. Loren says that the HAC is already planning for next year’s Dia de los Muertos.]]>

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