After all, says Carmen de Novais, "the only sure thing about life is death." De Novais is an active member of the Cultural Coalition, which is involved in three local events that will spread the one-day holiday into a weekend of festivities.
The beauty of this tradition is how it expresses the Mexican view of death as part of the cycle of life. "Día de los Muertos is more lighthearted -- humor is a big part of it," says de Novais. "Even though we're honoring our ancestors, we're also celebrating their lives."
Starting on Friday, November 1, Valley residents can get into the spirit at La Calaca Cafe, an open mike night at Undici Undici, 1111 South Longmore in Mesa. "We're trying to remember our loved ones with a lot of poetry and music and art," says de Novais. The party runs from 7 to 11 p.m., and admission is $6. Call 480-962-4224 for details.
Then on Saturday, November 2, the Mexican Cultural Center will present a free celebration from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Patriots Square, located on Washington Street between Central and First avenues. Cecilia Rosales, the center's executive director, says she's excited to share such an important part of Mexican culture. "Particularly in Phoenix, we haven't been able to showcase enough of the Southwestern flavors that we have here." Highlights will include a performance from a contemporary dance troupe from Mexico, music, food and art exhibits. For more information, call 602-271-4858.
In conjunction with the event, the Cultural Coalition will lead a procession to honor the victims of violence, departing at noon from Genesis Academy, 640 North First Avenue, and arriving at Patriots Square for a 1 p.m. ceremony.
Rounding out the weekend is Mesa's free Day of the Dead Celebration on Sunday, November 3. Traditional music and masked dancers will entertain visitors from noon to dusk at Pioneer Park, 526 East Main. Of course, there will be plenty of delicious food and activities for kids. "It's a definite family event," says de Novais. To find out more, call 480-833-5875.