While the culture in the United States has many Americans shying away from frank discussions about death, many Mexicans embrace death and they use El Día De Los Muertos as an important opportunity to celebrate the life of loved ones and friends they knew in this world.

“To me, El Dia de los Muertos means remembering the good times with our past loved ones,” Silvia Gomez tells Madison365. “It’s a time to celebrate our loved ones who are deceased with food and music and activities and parties that are passed ones once enjoyed in life. It’s not a mourning thing; it’s a celebration thing.”

Silvia Gomez

Gomez is organizing East High School’s 3rd Annual Día de los Muertos event which will take place Saturday, Nov. 4, 5-7:30 p.m. at Madison East High School, 2222 E Washington Ave.

“We’re excited because the event will take place in East High School’s brand new theater,” says Gomez, a bilingual resource specialist at Madison East. “This will be our third year doing this event.”

The event is being hosted by the Latino Student Union of East High and by El Ballet Folklórico de María Díaz dance group. “It’s a fundraiser for the groups. For Ballet Folklórico, its for the girls to be able to help pay for their dresses that they wear when they perform. They have to pay for their dresses and accessories out of pocket, so this is a way to help the families out,” Gomez says. “It’s also a fundraiser for the Latino Student Union’s scholarship fund and for their end-of-the-year field trip.”

El Ballet Folklórico de María Díaz will be performing beautiful traditional and Aztec dances at the Annual Día de los Muertos event. Local singer Carlos Soriano will sing traditional Mexican Mariachi songs and local singer and DeForest High School student Guadalupe Zaragoza will also perform. There will also be a special performance by local singer and performer Rey Cruz (pictured above).

“Performing at ‘Dia De Los Muertos’ event is an honor, privilege and a delightful moment to share with others – the music, the traditional dances, the food, but overall remembering our loved ones who pass away,” Cruz, who is originally from Honduras, tells Madison365. “Although Honduras tradition does not celebrate ‘El Dia De Los Muertos’ exactly as the Mexico tradition does. What we do that day is to visit our loved ones at the commentary putting on flowers, cleaning the grave and staying sometimes the whole day making it a very meaningful remembrance and a very important day for us as family members.”

El Ballet Folklórico de María Díaz

At the event, there will also be face painting by Metamorfaces, a display of artwork done by local Mexican artist Rodrigo Carapia, and a display and demonstration done by Eder Valle, a local food artesian. Delicious food will be sold at the event.

“We will have 2018 Latino calendars that we will sell at the event to raise money that look really awesome,” Gomez says. “Somebody told me: Who uses calendars anymore?”

Well, I do.

2018 Latino Calendar

“I do, too! I love them,” Gomez says. “And these ones are awesome and they have great pictures on them like Sonia Sotomayor and Che Guevarra and on each day they have little facts of what happened on that day in history. You can learn something about the Latino culture every day.”

Dia De Los Muertos is not one, but two days spent in honor of the dead. The first day celebrates infants and children who have died. This is a group which is believed to have a special place in heaven, and are referred to as “Angelitos” or little angels. The second day is in honor of adults who have passed away.

“El Dia de los Muertos was a ritual that was started by the indigenous Aztecs more than 3,000 years ago. Originally, it lasted a month – the month of August – but changed when the Spanish conquistadors came and they combined the Catholisim with the old ritual,” Gomez says. “It is what it is now.”

Last year’s Día de los Muertos at East

All of those traditions, culture, music and fun of El Día de los Muertos will be on display this Saturday at East High. Gomez hopes that people bring friends and families. Admission is $5 and children under 5 enter free.

“It’s for the whole community. I really hope to see a diverse crowd. For me, this event is a cultural experience and it’s a great chance to learn something. It’s beautiful. It’s colorful. It’s musical. It’s fun!”

If you can’t come to El Día De Los Muertos at East High and still want to contribute, call Silvia at (608) 204-1624 or at (608)577-7979.

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.