Dia de los Muertos festival celebrates 20 years in Birmingham

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Day of the Dead continues.

The traditional Latin American festival of Dia de los Muertos, celebrated with the coordination of the arts organization Bare Hands, celebrated its 20th anniversary in Birmingham on Tuesday.

“It’s a way of honoring the dead and remembering their lives,” said Saily Robaina.

“People like to remember their loved ones,” said Tosha Gaines, board member of nonprofit arts organization Bare Hands Inc. “We feel the pain together. You can cry here without judgement.

Dia de los Muertos moved to Sloss Furnaces this year, after several years at Pepper Place.

The festival features a walking path through altars erected to commemorate the dead, with elaborate artwork, candles and memorabilia related to the lives of the honored deceased.

There is a “Letters to Heaven” stall, where those wishing to reach the world beyond can sit and write letters to their deceased loved ones.

“It gives people a way to grieve,” said DeAnna Fields, who oversaw the Letters to Heaven booth. “That sounds comforting.”

There is a pet memorial booth, where those whose pets have died can write their names on paper and hang them on a memorial art wall.

Dia de los Muertos, observed annually on November 2, is also known as the Day of the Dead.

In the Americas, the ritual of the church was mixed with the indigenous celebration of the ancestors. The Mayans, Incas, and other Native Americans had great reverence for the dead, and ancestor worship was culturally important. This tradition merged into the Catholic Holy Days of the Dead.

In the tradition of the Anglican and Catholic churches, All Saints Day is a day of prayer for all souls. Among Catholics, prayers are offered for those in purgatory, waiting to enter paradise.

In many countries of Mexico and Central America, November 2 is a national holiday. It is the culmination of three days of celebration: All Saints Day, All Saints Day and All Saints Day. People often dress up as skeletons to remember the dead and celebrate their ancestors.

In addition to the altars, there are elaborate costumes, with facial makeup that often echoes skeletons.

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