America is the melting pot of the world. One can encounter many different cultures within a community. As a result, there are several options for cultural experiences available. One particular event that occurred within my community was a Mexican American Festival.
This was a festival acknowledging the Day of Dead which was celebrated throughout Mexico on November 1. At first, I thought it was another Halloween party, but it turned out to be something completely different.
In Mexico, the Day of Dead (Dia de Muertos) is a traditional holiday to remember all of one’s family members and friends who have passed away. As tradition goes, families will visit the cemetery and decorate the graves with colorful flowers, candles, and other little adornments.
At home, the memorial continues as the families create an alter with a picture of the person who has passed away and they decorate this alter with things that were of interest to the deceased when they were alive. This is followed by a huge family gathering including music, food, and fun for everyone. The belief is that during the Day of the Dead, the deceased love will return and visit their alter.
There were several people from the Mexican culture at the Mexican American Festival. There were several families with many children, seniors, and groups of friends. Many of the Hispanic people were dressed in authentic Mexican clothes including
sombreros and boots for the men and large colorful, flowing dresses for the women. Others were dressed like the current fad. There was a mixture of different clothing, but one could tell it was a Mexican celebration because many had authentic wear or things one would not normally see in the American culture.
The entire hall was decorated with skeletons and skulls which is a traditional Day of the Dead decoration in Mexico. There were also pinatas hanging from the ceiling and the lights were lowered with some disco lights. Each table was nicely decorated with small skulls of many different colors.
There was a huge dance floor in the middle of the hall and a food buffet in the back of the hall. All of the deco rations were symbolistic of the Mexican culture and were very colorful and festive. It was hard to believe that this was a celebration of death. On the largest wall in the hall was a huge piece of while bulletin board paper with some pens where many of the Mexican people wrote the names of the their deceased family members and friends. This paper was full of name.
A form of Mariachi music or salsa music was playing and many people were dancing and having a good time. For awhile, they had a live Mexican band and other times, they had a DJ who played discs. The form of dance was very different from the American way of dancing.
It seemed that all of the couples were dancing in a similar 1-2 step fashion. At times it was a salsa dance and other times it was a cumbia or a bachata dance. Some were dancing as a couple and others were dancing in a circle of friends. The music upbeat and lively throughout the entire party.
There was also a lot of traditional Mexican food that would be eaten during the Day of the Dead in Mexico. One thing that stood out were the sugar skulls. There were little skulls made out of marzipan. In addition, there were also several skulls shaped cookies and cakes.
All of the pastries were in the form of skeleton and skulls just as it is done in Mexico. Dinner was also available for those who were hungry. The menu consisted of tamales, tacos, beans, rice, chicken mole, pozole, and corn on the cob. All meals were served with warm corn tortillas.
The food was free with paid admission and there was more than plenty to go around. Plenty of hot sauce was also available. As for drinks, there were Coca Colas, fruit juices, tea, and of course, Corona, the most famous beer of Mexico. Even though people were drinking alcohol, it was a family event and all was very well-controlled.
The Day of the Day is a very festive day that is celebrated in all parts of Mexico. The Mexican people who live here in the United States continue to celebrate their tradition. I enjoyed the festival and I learned a lot about the Mexican culture. The food, the dance, the decorations and the symbolism behind the reason for the festival was very culturally oriented, educational, and entertaining.
It gave me an entire new respect in the Mexican culture. By attending festivals such as this one, I feel that I better understand a small part of the Mexican culture and it was an honor to be apart of such a sentimental memorial. It was a very important event for each and every participant and their Mexican pride was very evident.
I believe that if more people could attend festivals such as this one; not only from the Mexican culture, but also from other cultures, much of the world’s racism might be eliminated. Racism stems from a lack of understand, and when one is offered opportunities such as this one, an opportunity for understanding the culture is available. Although I did not understand the language, I still had fun and for the most part, understood everything that was going on. Viva Mexico!