Yesterday, Greg and I headed down to Harbourfront Centre to check out the annual Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) festival. I had heard from people who had gone in previous years that it wasn’t very good, but although the event was indeed small in scale compared to the summertime events that attract thousands and take over the entire Harbourfront complex, this was actually quite charming.
Along with a number of musical and dance performances, there were activities for kids such as a demo on how to make the traditional sugar skulls, cooking demos by local Mexican chefs, and a small marketplace, a restaurant area with a variety of Mexican foods, and a space where the traditional colourful shrines were set up in homage to famous Mexicans like Frida Kahlo and Cesar Chavez.
Since the Day of the Dead celebrations are meant to honour the lives of the dead (this ancient festival dates back to Aztec times and includes a visit to the graves of loved ones for a picnic), the whole event is colourful, bright and fun. The Mexican people believe that death is not the end, but the beginning of a new stage in life so celebration, not mourning, is appropriate.
The rows of sugar skulls, all bearing names.
Detail of the shrine for Cesar Chavez.
An elaborately painted coffin in a shrine.
An array of glamorously dressed figurines.
A selection of Frida figurines.
Part of the Frida Kahlo shrine – this artwork is made entirely from seeds.
Shrines often include the dead person’s favourite things, including foods. This guy was apparently a fan of the Jarrito Mexican soda.
Detail of the hanging dolly figurines.
All the dollies – one of my favourite displays in the marketplace.