The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a holiday celebrated on November 1 and 2. It originated in Mexico and is mostly observed in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere.
Día de los Muertos is not the same as Halloween. Many families celebrate both Halloween and Día de los Muertos. Those who celebrate Día de los Muertos believe that at midnight on October 31, the souls of all deceased children come down from heaven and reunite with their families on November 1 (All Saints’ Day), and the souls of deceased adults come visit on November 2 (All Souls Day).
During the celebration, families make colorful altars in their homes in honor of their deceased loved ones. The altars are decorated with the four elements of nature: water, wind, fire (candles), and earth (flowers). Marigold is the traditional flower used to honor the dead. It is yellow like the sun and represents life and hope.
Spending the night inside the cemetery, picnicking next to a dead family member’s grave, telling stories, and listening to music is all part of the celebration.
Like any special occasion in Mexico, food plays a vital role. The Día de los Muertos traditional meal often includes Mexican favorites, such as tamales, but what most people look forward to during the season are the desserts. Pan de muerto, which translates as “bread of the dead,” is one of the popular holiday treats.
Masks, costumes, face paint, skulls, and skeletons are often part of the festivities. Handmade sugar skulls are an iconic part of the holiday.
The holiday is considered a joyous holiday, not one of mourning. Many believe their deceased love ones are laughing along with them. It’s also meant to reflect on the lives of those who’ve passed on, and celebrate them.
Day of the Dead events
October 16, 2021 from 10 am – 6 pm
Greenlawn Cemetery hosts Latino Arts for the Humanities Day of the Dead Celebration. Free and open to the public, displays, cultural performers, vendors, food, music, and of course a great opportunity to learn about how Latin American cultures celebrate the lives of passed loved ones
Join us for a multi-day celebration of Día de los Muertos! Events are family-friendly.
Saturday, October 16: Gather at Greenlawn Cemetery with Latino Arts for Humanity for traditional altar displays, exhibitions, Aztec dance, OSU poetry workshops, and art and food vendors for all ages!
Tuesday, November 2 from 10:30am – 2:30pm: Celebrate in the atrium of Hagerty Hall on Ohio State’s campus with hot chocolate, sugar skulls, the Arbol de Deseos (Tree of Life), an interactive ofrenda, pan de muerto, and an honoring of our ancestors.
October 17-31, 2021 at Global Gallery, 3535 North High Street, Columbus
Through November 6. Visit the ‘Recuérdame’ exhibition at Global Gallery to experience ofrenda and accompanying artwork that celebrates the traditional Mexican Día de Muertos holiday (Nov. 1st – 2nd). Ofrenda (Spanish for offering) is a home altar, built to honor lost loved ones. It’s a collection of objects and offerings placed on a ritual display to help remember, learn about, and celebrate the lives of those who have passed on.
Community Ofrenda at CMA
October 27 – November 5: An ofrenda is an altar, built to honor lost loved ones. Visitors may add a memento, photo, or word to remember and celebrate someone special from their lives. The ofrenda was created by Renee Zamora, a Columbus artist who works with printmaking, mixed media and found objects. Artist Renee Zamora shares her story and one of her favorite parts about Dia de los Muertos, the ofrenda. Follow along and build your own.
Community Conversation on Grief at CMA
Saturday October 30 at 2:00 pm: Join CMA and community partners in an honest and meaningful conversation about grief, loss, healing, and the origins of Día de los Muertos. This event is free and open to the public.
Celebrate Día de los Muertos at CMA
November 6: Celebrate the rich origins of Día de los Muertos at CMA with day-long offerings to connect, and honor our loved ones who have departed. Enjoy $5 admission all day, children 3 and under are free. From 1:00-4:00 PM, enjoy live music by local salsa band Al Son del Iya, art activities, and add to a community ofrenda. Schokko Café will feature an inspired menu all day. Details and registration on the Columbus Museum of Art website.
October 31, 2021 from 7-9 pm
On Sunday, October 31, rooftop bar and restaurant VASO will be hosting a Día De Los Muertos themed pop-up event. From 7-9pm, enjoy spooky decor and live entertainment over a three course dinner curated around the bold flavors from Sauce Boss Gang, Columbus’ new female and minority-owned hot sauce business.
Experience the brilliance and blaze over spectacular panoramic views of the Scioto River, festive Day of the Dead themed sips like Frida’s Bouquet and Into The Spirits, an Espolòn tequila tasting, special guest entertainment and DJ Lady Sandoval spinning vinyl all throughout the evening. Tickets start at $85. Seating is first-come, first-served basis. Tax and gratuity included in ticket price. Visit www.vasodublin.com to reserve your ticket.