A vibrant cultural tradition comes to life in the Yakima Valley in October and November. Explore two very special ways to experience the traditions and significance of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
The Day of the Dead is all About Remembrance and Life
Unlike Halloween, which is a dark and spooky night of frights and mischief, Día de los Muertos celebrates the beauty of life in an explosion of color, love and remembrance. It originated thousands of years ago in Central America and has roots in both indigenous and Catholic traditions. At the center of the celebration is the importance of honoring and remembering the lives of loved ones who have passed, as opposed to mourning. Altars of remembrance, or ofrendas, are important components of the celebration. These three-tier altars representing birth, life and after life are made to commemorate loved ones and welcome them back to the land of the living.
The altars are filled with offerings that represent the life of the loved one and welcome them back from eternal sleep for one night, as well as traditional components such as fire (candles) and wind (colorful paper decorations). Other familiar symbols of Día de los Muertos are bright marigolds, beautifully made of paper, and calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls), brightly attired and decorated. Sugar skulls are a common festive component.
Traditionally, Día de los Muertos is marked by festivities, costumes, music, food and dance. Here in the Valley, we have two beautiful displays where we can experience the celebration of life, remembrance, and learn about the rich traditions.
Each year, Tieton Arts & Humanities hosts the celebration and creates a large community altar for everyone to contribute memories to. This year, as always, they’ve created a wonderful experience to celebrate the beauty of life and remember those who are no longer with us.
It begins with an opening community celebration with live performances, artists, a stunning gallery exhibit, music, arts and crafts activities, sugar skull decorating and a mercado featuring artisans and foods. The display includes a large memorial altar, or ofrenda, celebrating those who have passed. Visitors can bring photos of loved ones, write messages, help decorate and bring candies or breads to make the altar a community celebration. The display also features exhibits about the sacred traditions, contemporary and traditional altars, sugar skull displays, paper marigolds, papel picado (vibrant, decorate paper banners) and a vibrant, traditional sandpainting by acclaimed Oaxacan artist Fulgencio Throughout November they have several special experiences planned, including dance and music performances and Voices to the Dead poetry reading.
The community celebration takes place October 29 from 12 pm to 5 pm. You can visit and view the gallery and altar through November 18, Fridays and Saturdays 12 to 5 pm and by appointment .
Visit their website and social channels to learn how you can experience the celebration of life.
This beautiful event is created by the Yakima-Morelia Sister City Association. The traditional dances and foods of Mexico have been incorporated into the Yakima Valley lifestyle, lending colorful, cultural diversity to the area. The main feature of the celebration includes dozens of individual unique, community alters created by local businesses, individuals, organizations and schools. The exhibit is located in the Valley Mall and is open for viewing from October 28 to November 4, open daily, 11 am to 6 pm. This year they’re also hosting concerts, dance performances and hands on workshops including paper flower making.