The City of Farmers Branch is hosting the Day of the Dead Celebration on Thursday, November 1 at the Dodson House in the Farmers Branch Historical Park. The two-hour celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes dinner provided by Supermercado El Rancho, music, and traditional Mexican agua frescas and cinnamon hot chocolate. Guests will experience a dramatic presentation by three “ghosts.” Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Latin music superstar Selena Quintanilla and a local abuelita will entertain and educate attendees about the history and traditions surrounding the Day of the Dead.
“Americans tend to lump together Halloween and the Day of the Dead,” says Bonnie Neumann, historical cultural specialist for Farmers Branch. “But that’s not really the case. The two holidays are different and separate.”
Despite the name, this is not a spooky or somber event, but is a festive occasion honoring the lives and memories of family and friends who have died. The living honor the dead during this celebration by building altars, or ofrendas, in memory of the departed. These altars are decorated with orange Mexican marigolds, photographs, favorite foods, drinks and items, such as lace, clothing or jewelry, of the dead.
The timing of the holiday occurs at the same time as the migration of the monarch butterflies to Mexico. Some believe that the butterflies are the returning spirits of the departed.
The historical roots of the Day of the Dead, which is observed over three days, can be traced to ancient indigenous peoples of southern Mexico. After the Spanish and Catholicism arrived, the tradition evolved to coincide with the Christian observance of Allhallowtide: All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on October 31, November 1 and November 2. In the 1960’s, Mexico made November 2 a national holiday in observance of the Day of the Dead, known there as Día de Muertos. It was then that the custom spread throughout Mexico.
Traditions and beliefs practiced during the three-day celebration vary from region to region and even from town to town, but some common ones include families cleaning and decorating the graves of loved ones, hanging tissue paper decorations, and lighting candles. Skulls and skeletons are common icons of the holiday and are often dressed and sometimes set in humorous positions, eating, drinking, dancing or playing instruments.
This intimate celebration has limited space and is for ages 4 and up. Pre-registration is required. The activity fee is $20 for the general public and registration is online here. Friends of the Farmers Branch Historical Park should call 972-406-0184 to register with a reduced fee of $15.