Philadelphia’s Mexican communities connect with loved ones during Día de Los Muertos

People who participated in a community bike ride on Sunday were encouraged to decorate their bicycles and to dress up as Catrinas or Calaveras. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

People who participated in a community bike ride on Sunday were encouraged to decorate their bicycles and to dress up as Catrinas or Calaveras. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Households and families are prepping for Día de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, honoring the lives and memories of loved ones who have passed away.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, those observing the holiday will make ofrendas, or offerings, to loved ones at gravesites or altars people make for the occasion in their homes.

At Love Park, an altar created by Ivonne Pinto-García provides a place for people to leave offerings, while also presenting an opportunity for those wishing to learn more about the traditional Mexican celebration.

Artist/activist Ivonne Pinto-García designed the altar that’s currently on display in Love Park until Nov. 2 for Día de Muertos. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
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Pinto-García said when some people see the altar, they often confuse it for Halloween due to the close timing of the holidays, and some of the similar themes.

“The colors [are] similar, the orange for Día de Muertos and orange for Halloween, but it’s different because this is real history, with real tradition and real culture from Mexico,” Pinto-García said.

Offerings and notes for loved ones that have passed were left at the altar in Love Park on Oct. 30, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Día de Muertos is rooted in Pre-Columbian cultures and beliefs. It traces back thousands of years to when the Aztecs gave offerings to deceased ancestors as part of death rituals. After the Spanish came, the celebration morphed to incorporate Catholic beliefs and practices.

It’s traditionally celebrated in Mexico on Nov. 1-2: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

People who participated in a community bike ride on Sunday were encouraged to decorate their bicycles and to dress up as Catrinas or Calaveras. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
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People gathered at the altar in Love Park Sunday following a community bike ride, part of a series of Day of the Dead events organized by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, and the Mexican Cultural Center.

Head Consul of Mexico in Philadelphia Carlos Obrador was at Sunday’s event and explained the connections families have with their loved ones and each other during the holiday.

After partaking in a community bike ride, people posed in front of the altar in Love Park ahead of Día de Muertos on Oct. 30, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“During those days, you can remember and see maybe the bottle of tequila or the bottle of mescal or the food that they enjoy,” Obrador said. “We play the music that they like, so it’s a way of connecting with them and have nice memories. It’s a cheerful moment.”

The altar in Love Park will be on display until Friday, Nov. 4.

Offerings and notes for loved ones that have passed were left at the altar in Love Park on Oct. 30, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

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